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by Herman Melville


(Supplied by a Late Consumptive Usher to a Grammar School)

The pale Usher--threadbare in coatheartbodyand brain; I see him
now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammarswith a queer
handkerchiefmockingly 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

WHALE. ... It is more immediately from the Dut. and Ger. WALLEN;


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 earthpicking up whatever random
allusions to whales he could anyways find in any book whatsoever
sacred or profane. Therefore you must notin every case at least
take the higgledy-piggledy whale statementshowever authenticin
these extractsfor veritable gospel cetology. Far from it. As
touching the ancient authors generallyas well as the poets here
appearingthese extracts are solely valuable or entertainingas
affording a glancing bird's eye view of what has been promiscuously
saidthoughtfanciedand sung of Leviathanby many nations and

generationsincluding our own.

So fare thee wellpoor devil of a Sub-Subwhose commentator I am.
Thou belongest to that hopelesssallow 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 sitand feel
poor-devilishtoo; and grow convivial upon tears; and say to them
bluntlywith full eyes and empty glassesand in not altogether
unpleasant sadness--Give it upSub-Subs! For by how much the more
pains ye take to please the worldby 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 heavensand making refugees of
long-pampered GabrielMichaeland Raphaelagainst your coming.
Here ye strike but splintered hearts together--thereye shall strike
unsplinterable glasses!


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.

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.

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 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.

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


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.

This whale's liver was two cartloads.--STOWE'S ANNALS.

The great Leviathan that maketh the seas to seethe like boiling

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 extracted out of one whale.

The sovereignest thing on earth is parmacetti for an inward bruise.

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.

Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies can in a peaceful
calm trouble the ocean til it boil.--SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT. PREFACE

What spermacetti is, men might justly doubt, since the learned
Hosmannus in his work of thirty years, saith plainly, Nescio quid

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

By art is created that great Leviathan, called a Commonwealth or
State--(in Latin, Civitas) which is but an artificial man.--OPENING

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 creaturesin the deep
Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims
And seems a moving land; and at his gills
Draws inand 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.

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

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

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

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 GREENLANDA.D. 1671 HARRIS COLL.

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.

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.

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

... and the breath of the whale is frequendy attended with such an
insupportable smell, as to bring on a disorder of the brain.

To fifty chosen sylphs of special note,
We trust the important charge, the petticoat.
Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail,
Tho' stuffed with hoops and armed with ribs of whale.--RAPE

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.--GOLDSMITHNAT. 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

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

The Spermacetti Whale found by the Nantuckois, is an active, fierce
animal, and requires vast address and boldness in the fishermen.

And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it?--EDMUND BURKE'S

Spain--a great whale stranded on the shores of Europe.--EDMUND

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.

Bright shone the roofs, the domes, the spires,
And rockets blew self driven,
To hang their momentary fire
Around the vault of heaven.

So fire with water to compare
The ocean serves on high
Up-spouted by a whale in air
To express unwieldy joy." --COWPERON THE QUEEN'S

Ten or fifteen gallons of blood are thrown out of the heart at a
stroke, with immense velocity.--JOHN HUNTER'S ACCOUNT OF THE

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

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.

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
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.

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

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

I built a cottage for Susan and myself and made a gateway in the
form of a Gothic Arch, by setting up a whale's jaw bones.

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

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-buttthat 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

My God! Mr. Chace, what is the matter?I answeredwe have been

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,
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 airwhich
cracking like a whipresounds 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

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 bodybut also more frequently displays a
disposition to employ these weapons offensively and in manner at once
so artfulboldand mischievousas to lead to its being regarded as
the most dangerous to attack of all the known species of the whale

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
Sing out! sing out every time!
Ay Ay, sir! There she blows! there--there--THAR she
How far off?
Two miles and a half.
Thunder and lightning! so near! Call all hands.--J. ROSS BROWNE'S

The Whale-ship Globe, on board of which vessel occurred the horrid
transactions we are about to relate, belonged to the island of

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.

Nantucket itself,said Mr. Websteris 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

The whale fell directly over him, and probably killed him in a

If you make the least damn bit of noise,replied SamuelI will


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.

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 different air from those engaged in regular

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

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

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

Suddenly a mighty mass emerged from the water, and shot up
perpendicularly into the air. It was the while.--MIRIAM COFFIN OR

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.--A CHAPTER ON WHALING IN RIBS AND

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

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.



Call me Ishmael. Some years ago--never mind how long
precisely--having little or no money in my purseand nothing
particular to interest me on shoreI 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 warehousesand bringing up the rear of every
funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper
hand of methat it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me
from deliberately stepping into the streetand methodically knocking
people's hats off--thenI 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 italmost all men in their degreesome time or othercherish
very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

There now is your insular city of the Manhattoesbelted round by
wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs--commerce surrounds it with
her surf. Right and leftthe streets take you waterward. Its
extreme downtown is the batterywhere that noble mole is washed by
wavesand cooled by breezeswhich 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 Slipand from thenceby Whitehall
northward. What do you see?--Posted like silent sentinels all around
the townstand 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 riggingas 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 countersnailed to benchesclinched to
desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they

But look! here come more crowdspacing straight for the waterand
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 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 allthey come from lanes
and alleysstreets and avenues--northeastsouthand west. Yet
here they all unite. Tell medoes 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 pleaseand ten to one it carries you down
in a daleand 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 legsset his feet a-going
and he will infallibly lead you to waterif water there be in all
that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American
deserttry this experimentif your caravan happen to be supplied
with a metaphysical professor. Yesas every one knowsmeditation
and water are wedded for ever.

But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the dreamiest
shadiestquietestmost enchanting bit of romantic landscape in all

the valley of the Saco. What is the chief element he employs? There
stand his treeseach with a hollow trunkas if a hermit and a
crucifix were within; and here sleeps his meadowand there sleep his
cattle; and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy smoke. Deep into
distant woodlands winds a mazy wayreaching to overlapping spurs of
mountains bathed in their hill-side blue. But though the picture
lies thus trancedand though this pine-tree shakes down its sighs
like leaves upon this shepherd's headyet all were vainunless the
shepherd's eye were fixed upon the magic stream before him. Go visit
the Prairies in Junewhen 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 sandwould you travel your thousand miles to see
it? Why did the poor poet of Tennesseeupon suddenly receiving two
handfuls of silverdeliberate whether to buy him a coatwhich he
sadly neededor invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway
Beach? Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy
soul in himat some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your
first voyage as a passengerdid you yourself feel such a mystical
vibrationwhen 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 deityand own brother of Jove? Surely
all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of
that story of Narcissuswho because he could not grasp the
tormentingmild image he saw in the fountainplunged into it and
was drowned. But that same imagewe 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.

Nowwhen I say that I am in the habit of going to sea whenever I
begin to grow hazy about the eyesand begin to be over conscious of
my lungsI 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 muchas a general thing;--noI never go as a
passenger; northough I am something of a saltdo I ever go to sea
as a Commodoreor a Captainor a Cook. I abandon the glory and
distinction of such offices to those who like them. For my partI
abominate all honourable respectable toilstrialsand tribulations
of every kind whatsoever. It is quite as much as I can do to take
care of myselfwithout taking care of shipsbarquesbrigs
schoonersand what not. And as for going as cook--though I confess
there is considerable glory in thata cook being a sort of officer
on ship-board--yetsomehowI never fancied broiling fowls;--though
once broiledjudiciously butteredand judgmatically salted and
pepperedthere is no one who will speak more respectfullynot to
say reverentiallyof a broiled fowl than I will. It is out of the
idolatrous dotings of the old Egyptians upon broiled ibis and roasted
river horsethat you see the mummies of those creatures in their
huge bake-houses the pyramids.

Nowhen I go to seaI go as a simple sailorright before the mast
plumb down into the forecastlealoft there to the royal mast-head.
Truethey rather order me about someand make me jump from spar to
sparlike a grasshopper in a May meadow. And at firstthis 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 Rensselaersor Randolphsor Hardicanutes. And more than
allif just previous to putting your hand into the tar-potyou have
been lording it as a country schoolmastermaking the tallest boys
stand in awe of you. The transition is a keen oneI assure you
from a schoolmaster to a sailorand requires a strong decoction of
Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it. But even

this wears off in time.

What of itif some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a
broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to
weighedI meanin the scales of the New Testament? Do you think
the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of mebecause I
promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular
instance? Who ain't a slave? Tell me that. Wellthenhowever the
old sea-captains may order me about--however they may thump and punch
me aboutI 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 viewthat is; and
so the universal thump is passed roundand all hands should rub each
other's shoulder-bladesand be content.

AgainI always go to sea as a sailorbecause they make a point of
paying me for my troublewhereas they never pay passengers a single
penny that I ever heard of. On the contrarypassengers 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 marvellousconsidering
that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly
illsand that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how
cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!

FinallyI always go to sea as a sailorbecause 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 isif
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 thingsat the same time that the leaders little suspect
it. But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea
as a merchant sailorI should now take it into my head to go on a
whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fateswho
has the constant surveillance of meand secretly dogs meand
influences me in some unaccountable way--he can better answer than
any one else. Anddoubtlessmy 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. I take it that this part of the
bill must have run something like this:


Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers
the Fatesput me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyagewhen
others were set down for magnificent parts in high tragediesand
short and easy parts in genteel comediesand jolly parts in
farces--though I cannot tell why this was exactly; yetnow that I
recall all the circumstancesI think I can see a little into the
springs and motives which being cunningly presented to me under
various disguisesinduced 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 undeliverablenameless perils of the whale; these
with all the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonian sights and
soundshelped to sway me to my wish. With other menperhapssuch
things would not have been inducements; but as for meI am tormented
with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden
seasand land on barbarous coasts. Not ignoring what is goodI am
quick to perceive a horrorand 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 thingsthenthe whaling voyage was welcome; the
great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung openand in the wild
conceits that swayed me to my purposetwo and two there floated into
my inmost soulendless processions of the whaleandmid most of
them allone grand hooded phantomlike a snow hill in the air.


The Carpet-Bag.

I stuffed a shirt or two into my old carpet-bagtucked it under my
armand started for Cape Horn and the Pacific. Quitting the good
city of old ManhattoI 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 sailedand that no
way of reaching that place would offertill the following Monday.

As most young candidates for the pains and penalties of whaling stop
at this same New Bedfordthence to embark on their voyageit may as
well be related that Ifor onehad no idea of so doing. For my
mind was made up to sail in no other than a Nantucket craftbecause
there was a fineboisterous something about everything connected
with that famous old islandwhich amazingly pleased me. Besides
though New Bedford has of late been gradually monopolising the
business of whalingand though in this matter poor old Nantucket is
now much behind heryet Nantucket was her great original--the Tyre
of this Carthage;--the place where the first dead American whale was
stranded. Where else but from Nantucket did those aboriginal
whalementhe Red-Menfirst sally out in canoes to give chase to the
Leviathan? And where but from Nantuckettoodid that first
adventurous little sloop put forthpartly laden with imported
cobblestones--so goes the story--to throw at the whalesin order to
discover when they were nigh enough to risk a harpoon from the

Now having a nighta dayand still another night following before
me in New Bedfordere I could embark for my destined portit
became a matter of concernment where I was to eat and sleep
meanwhile. It was a very dubious-lookingnaya very dark and
dismal nightbitingly cold and cheerless. I knew no one in the
place. With anxious grapnels I had sounded my pocketand only
brought up a few pieces of silver--Sowherever you goIshmael
said I to myselfas I stood in the middle of a dreary street
shouldering my bagand comparing the gloom towards the north with
the darkness towards the south--wherever in your wisdom you may
conclude to lodge for the nightmy dear Ishmaelbe sure to inquire
the priceand don't be too particular.

With halting steps I paced the streetsand passed the sign of "The

Crossed Harpoons"--but it looked too expensive and jolly there.
Further onfrom 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 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?"--thisthen must needs be the sign of "The Trap."
HoweverI picked myself up and hearing a loud voice withinpushed
on and opened a secondinterior door.

It seemed the great Black Parliament sitting in Tophet. A hundred
black faces turned round in their rows to peer; and beyonda 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 darknessand the
weeping and wailing and teeth-gnashing there. HaIshmaelmuttered
Ibacking outWretched entertainment at the sign of 'The Trap!'

Moving onI at last came to a dim sort of light not far from the
docksand heard a forlorn creaking in the air; and looking upsaw a
swinging sign over the door with a white painting upon itfaintly
representing a tall straight jet of misty sprayand 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 Nantucketthey sayand I
suppose this Peter here is an emigrant from there. As the light
looked so dimand the placefor the timelooked quiet enoughand
the dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might have
been carted here from the ruins of some burnt districtand as the
swinging sign had a poverty-stricken sort of creak to itI thought
that here was the very spot for cheap lodgingsand the best of pea

It was a queer sort of place--a gable-ended old houseone side
palsied as it wereand leaning over sadly. It stood on a sharp
bleak cornerwhere that tempestuous wind Euroclydon kept up a worse
howling than ever it did about poor Paul's tossed craft. Euroclydon
neverthelessis a mighty pleasant zephyr to any one in-doorswith
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
differencewhether thou lookest out at it from a glass window where
the frost is all on the outsideor whether thou observest it from
that sashless windowwhere the frost is on both sidesand of which
the wight Death is the only glazier." True enoughthought Ias

this passage occurred to my mind--old black-letterthou reasonest
well. Yesthese eyes are windowsand this body of mine is the
house. What a pity they didn't stop up the chinks and the crannies
thoughand 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 onand the chips were carted off a million years ago.
Poor Lazarus therechattering his teeth against the curbstone for
his pillowand shaking off his tatters with his shiveringshe might
plug up both ears with ragsand put a corn-cob into his mouthand
yet that would not keep out the tempestuous Euroclydon. Euroclydon!
says old Divesin his red silken wrapper--(he had a redder one
afterwards) poohpooh! 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; yeaye gods! go down to the fiery pit
itselfin order to keep out this frost?

Nowthat Lazarus should lie stranded there on the curbstone before
the door of Divesthis is more wonderful than that an iceberg should
be moored to one of the Moluccas. Yet Dives himselfhe too lives
like a Czar in an ice palace made of frozen sighsand being a
president of a temperance societyhe only drinks the tepid tears of

But no more of this blubbering nowwe are going a-whalingand there
is plenty of that yet to come. Let us scrape the ice from our
frosted feetand see what sort of a place this "Spouter" may be.


The Spouter-Inn.

Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Innyou found yourself in a wide
lowstraggling entry with old-fashioned wainscotsreminding one of
the bulwarks of some condemned old craft. On one side hung a very
large oilpainting so thoroughly besmokedand every way defaced
that in the unequal crosslights by which you viewed itit was only
by diligent study and a series of systematic visits to itand
careful inquiry of the neighborsthat you could any way arrive at an
understanding of its purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades
and shadowsthat at first you almost thought some ambitious young
artistin the time of the New England hagshad endeavored to
delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint of much and earnest
contemplationand oft repeated ponderingsand especially by
throwing open the little window towards the back of the entryyou at
last come to the conclusion that such an ideahowever wildmight
not be altogether unwarranted.

But what most puzzled and confounded you was a longlimber
portentousblack mass of something hovering in the centre of the
picture over three bluedimperpendicular lines floating in a
nameless yeast. A boggysoggysquitchy picture trulyenough to
drive a nervous man distracted. Yet was there a sort of indefinite
half-attainedunimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze you
to ittill you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out
what that marvellous painting meant. Ever and anon a brightbut

alasdeceptive 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 outand all the rest were
plain. But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance to a gigantic
fish? even the great leviathan himself?

In factthe 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 whalepurposing to spring clean over the craftis in
the 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-shapedwith a vast handle sweeping
round like the segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed
mower. You shuddered as you gazedand wondered what monstrous
cannibal and savage could ever have gone a death-harvesting with such
a hackinghorrifying implement. Mixed with these were rusty old
whaling lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. Some were
storied weapons. With this once long lancenow 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 seasand run away with by a whaleyears afterwards
slain off the Cape of Blanco. The original iron entered nigh the
tailandlike a restless needle sojourning in the body of a man
travelled full forty feetand at last was found imbedded in the

Crossing this dusky entryand on through yon low-arched way--cut
through what in old times must have been a great central chimney with
fireplaces all round--you enter the public room. A still duskier
place is thiswith such low ponderous beams aboveand such old
wrinkled planks beneaththat you would almost fancy you trod some
old craft's cockpitsespecially of such a howling nightwhen this
corner-anchored old ark rocked so furiously. On one side stood a
longlowshelf-like table covered with cracked glass casesfilled
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
maythere stands the vast arched bone of the whale's jawso widea
coach might almost drive beneath it. Within are shabby shelves
ranged round with old decantersbottlesflasks; and in those jaws
of swift destructionlike another cursed Jonah (by which name indeed
they called him)bustles a little withered old manwhofor their
moneydearly sells the sailors deliriums and death.

Abominable are the tumblers into which he pours his poison. Though
true cylinders without--withinthe villanous green goggling glasses
deceitfully tapered downwards to a cheating bottom. Parallel
meridians rudely pecked into the glasssurround these footpads'
goblets. Fill to THIS markand 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 tableexamining by a dim light divers specimens of
SKRIMSHANDER. I sought the landlordand telling him I desired to be

accommodated with a roomreceived 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 soit would depend upon who the harpooneer might beand
that if he (the landlord) really had no other place for meand the
harpooneer was not decidedly objectionablewhy rather than wander
further about a strange town on so bitter a nightI 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 settlecarved all over like a bench on
the Battery. At one end a ruminating tar was still further adorning
it with his jack-knifestooping over and diligently working away at
the space between his legs. He was trying his hand at a ship under
full sailbut he didn't make much headwayI 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
jacketsand 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 potatoesbut dumplings; good heavens! dumplings for
supper! One young fellow in a green box coataddressed himself to
these dumplings in a most direful manner.

My boy,said the landlordyou'll have the nightmare to a dead

Landlord,I whisperedthat aint the harpooneer is it?

Oh, no,said helooking a sort of diabolically funnythe
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

He'll be here afore long,was the answer.

I could not help itbut I began to feel suspicious of this "dark
complexioned" harpooneer. At any rateI made up my mind that if it
so turned out that we should sleep togetherhe must undress and get
into bed before I did.

Supper overthe company went back to the bar-roomwhenknowing not
what else to do with myselfI resolved to spend the rest of the
evening as a looker on.

Presently a rioting noise was heard without. Starting upthe
landlord criedThat'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
openand in rolled a wild set of mariners enough. Enveloped in
their shaggy watch coatsand with their heads muffled in woollen
comfortersall bedarned and raggedand their beards stiff with

iciclesthey seemed an eruption of bears from Labrador. They had
just landed from their boatand this was the first house they
entered. No wonderthenthat they made a straight wake for the
whale's mouth--the bar--when the wrinkled little old Jonahthere
officiatingsoon poured them out brimmers all round. One complained
of a bad cold in his headupon which Jonah mixed him a pitch-like
potion of gin and molasseswhich he swore was a sovereign cure for
all colds and catarrhs whatsoevernever mind of how long standing
or whether caught off the coast of Labradoror on the weather side
of an ice-island.

The liquor soon mounted into their headsas it generally does even
with the arrantest topers newly landed from seaand they began
capering about most obstreperously.

I observedhoweverthat one of them held somewhat aloofand though
he seemed desirous not to spoil the hilarity of his shipmates by his
own sober faceyet 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 oneso far as this narrative is concerned)
I will here venture upon a little description of him. He stood full
six feet in heightwith noble shouldersand a chest like a
coffer-dam. I have seldom seen such brawn in a man. His face was
deeply brown and burntmaking 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 Southernerand from his fine statureI
thought he must be one of those tall mountaineers from the
Alleghanian Ridge in Virginia. When the revelry of his companions
had mounted to its heightthis man slipped away unobservedand I
saw no more of him till he became my comrade on the sea. In a few
minuteshoweverhe was missed by his shipmatesand beingit
seemsfor some reason a huge favourite with themthey 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'clockand the room seeming almost
supernaturally quiet after these orgiesI 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 factyou would a good deal
rather not sleep with your own brother. I don't know how it isbut
people like to be private when they are sleeping. And when it comes
to sleeping with an unknown strangerin a strange innin a strange
townand that stranger a harpooneerthen your objections
indefinitely multiply. Nor was there any earthly reason why I as a
sailor should sleep two in a bedmore than anybody else; for sailors
no more sleep two in a bed at seathan bachelor Kings do ashore. To
be sure they all sleep together in one apartmentbut you have your
own hammockand cover yourself with your own blanketand sleep in
your own skin.

The more I pondered over this harpooneerthe more I abominated the
thought of sleeping with him. It was fair to presume that being a
harpooneerhis linen or woollenas the case might bewould not be
of the tidiestcertainly none of the finest. I began to twitch all
over. Besidesit was getting lateand my decent harpooneer ought
to be home and going bedwards. Suppose nowhe should tumble in upon
me at midnight--how could I tell from what vile hole he had been

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 bitSkrimshander; I've got a carpenter's
plane there in the bar--waitI sayand I'll make ye snug enough."
So saying he procured the plane; and with his old silk handkerchief
first dusting the benchvigorously 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 wristand I told him for
heaven's sake to quit--the bed was soft enough to suit meand 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 grinand
throwing them into the great stove in the middle of the roomhe went
about his businessand left me in a brown study.

I now took the measure of the benchand found that it was a foot too
short; but that could be mended with a chair. But it was a foot too
narrowand 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 betweenfor 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 windowthat this plan would never do at
allespecially as another current from the rickety door met the one
from the windowand 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 harpooneerthought Ibut stopcouldn't I
steal a march on him--bolt his door insideand jump into his bed
not to be wakened by the most violent knockings? It seemed no bad
idea; but upon second thoughts I dismissed it. For who could tell
but what the next morningso soon as I popped out of the roomthe
harpooneer might be standing in the entryall ready to knock me

Stilllooking round me againand seeing no possible chance of
spending a sufferable night unless in some other person's bedI
began to think that after all I might be cherishing unwarrantable
prejudices against this unknown harpooneer. Thinks II'll wait
awhile; he must be dropping in before long. I'll have a good look at
him thenand perhaps we may become jolly good bedfellows after
all--there's no telling.

But though the other boarders kept coming in by onestwosand
threesand going to bedyet 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 chuckleand 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--yeshe's the bird what catches the worm. But to-night he
went out a peddlingyou seeand I don't see what on airth keeps him
so lateunlessmay behe 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
saylandlordthat this harpooneer is actually engaged this blessed
Saturday nightor rather Sunday morningin peddling his head around
this town?"

That's precisely it,said the landlordand 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 calmlyyou'd better
stop spinning that yarn to me--I'm not green.

May be not,taking out a stick and whittling a toothpickbut 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 Inow flying into a passion again at
this unaccountable farrago of the landlord's.

It's broke a'ready,said he.

Broke,said I--"BROKEdo you mean?"

Sartain, and that's the very reason he can't sell it, I guess.

Landlord,said Igoing up to him as cool as Mt. Hecla in a
snow-storm--"landlordstop whittling. You and I must understand one
anotherand 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 harpooneerwhom I
have not yet seenyou 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
connexionlandlordwhich 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 isand whether I shall be in all respects safe
to spend the night with him. And in the first placeyou will be so
good as to unsay that story about selling his headwhich if true I
take to be good evidence that this harpooneer is stark madand I've
no idea of sleeping with a madman; and yousirYOU I mean
landlordYOUsirby trying to induce me to do so knowinglywould
thereby render yourself liable to a criminal prosecution."

Wall,said the landlordfetching a long breaththat'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 mysteryand
showed that the landlordafter allhad 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 Sabbathengaged
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 comeit's getting
dreadful lateyou 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 about in that bed; it's an almighty
big bed that. Whyafore we give it upSal used to put our Sam and
little Johnny in the foot of it. But I got a dreaming and sprawling
about one nightand somehowSam got pitched on the floorand came
near breaking his arm. Arter thatSal said it wouldn't do. Come
along hereI'll give ye a glim in a jiffy;" and so saying he lighted
a candle and held it towards meoffering to lead the way. But I
stood irresolute; when looking at a clock in the cornerhe 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 momentand then up stairs we wentand I
was ushered into a small roomcold as a clamand furnishedsure
enoughwith a prodigious bedalmost big enough indeed for any four
harpooneers to sleep abreast.

There,said the landlordplacing the candle on a crazy old sea
chest that did double duty as a wash-stand and centre table; "there
make yourself comfortable nowand good night to ye." I turned
round from eyeing the bedbut he had disappeared.

Folding back the counterpaneI stooped over the bed. Though none of
the most elegantit yet stood the scrutiny tolerably well. I then
glanced round the room; and besides the bedstead and centre table
could see no other furniture belonging to the placebut a rude
shelfthe four wallsand a papered fireboard representing a man
striking a whale. Of things not properly belonging to the room
there was a hammock lashed upand thrown upon the floor in one
corner; also a large seaman's bagcontaining the harpooneer's
wardrobeno doubt in lieu of a land trunk. Likewisethere was a
parcel of outlandish bone fish hooks on the shelf over the
fire-placeand a tall harpoon standing at the head of the bed.

But what is this on the chest? I took it upand held it close to
the lightand felt itand smelt itand tried every way possible to
arrive at some satisfactory conclusion concerning it. I can compare
it to nothing but a large door matornamented 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 matas 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 onto try itand it weighed me down like a hamperbeing
uncommonly shaggy and thickand I thought a little dampas though
this mysterious harpooneer had been wearing it of a rainy day. I
went up in it to a bit of glass stuck against the walland 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 bedand commenced thinking about this
head-peddling harpooneerand his door mat. After thinking some time
on the bed-sideI got up and took off my monkey jacketand 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 nowhalf undressed as I wasand remembering what the
landlord said about the harpooneer's not coming home at all that
nightit being so very lateI made no more adobut jumped out of
my pantaloons and bootsand then blowing out the light tumbled into
bedand commended myself to the care of heaven.

Whether that mattress was stuffed with corn-cobs or broken crockery
there is no tellingbut I rolled about a good dealand could not
sleep for a long time. At last I slid off into a light dozeand had
pretty nearly made a good offing towards the land of Nodwhen I

heard a heavy footfall in the passageand saw a glimmer of light
come into the room from under the door.

Lord save methinks Ithat must be the harpooneerthe infernal
head-peddler. But I lay perfectly stilland resolved not to say a
word till spoken to. Holding a light in one handand that identical
New Zealand head in the otherthe stranger entered the roomand
without looking towards the bedplaced his candle a good way off
from me on the floor in one cornerand 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 facebut he kept it averted
for some time while employed in unlacing the bag's mouth. This
accomplishedhoweverhe turned round--whengood heavens! what a
sight! Such a face! It was of a darkpurplishyellow colourhere
and there stuck over with large blackish looking squares. Yesit's
just as I thoughthe's a terrible bedfellow; he's been in a fight
got dreadfully cutand here he isjust from the surgeon. But at
that moment he chanced to turn his face so towards the lightthat I
plainly saw they could not be sticking-plasters at allthose 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--whofalling among the cannibalshad been tattooed by
them. I concluded that this harpooneerin the course of his distant
voyagesmust have met with a similar adventure. And what is it
thought Iafter all! It's only his outside; a man can be honest in
any sort of skin. But thenwhat to make of his unearthly
complexionthat part of itI meanlying round aboutand
completely independent of the squares of tattooing. To be sureit
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.
HoweverI had never been in the South Seas; and perhaps the sun
there produced these extraordinary effects upon the skin. Nowwhile
all these ideas were passing through me like lightningthis
harpooneer never noticed me at all. Butafter some difficulty
having opened his baghe commenced fumbling in itand presently
pulled out a sort of tomahawkand a seal-skin wallet with the hair
on. Placing these on the old chest in the middle of the roomhe
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. Had not the stranger
stood between me and the doorI would have bolted out of it quicker
than ever I bolted a dinner.

Even as it wasI thought something of slipping out of the window
but it was the second floor back. I am no cowardbut what to make
of this head-peddling purple rascal altogether passed my
comprehension. Ignorance is the parent of fearand being completely
nonplussed and confounded about the strangerI 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 factI was so afraid of him
that I was not game enough just then to address himand demand a
satisfactory answer concerning what seemed inexplicable in him.

Meanwhilehe continued the business of undressingand at last
showed his chest and arms. As I livethese covered parts of him
were checkered with the same squares as his face; his backtoowas
all over the same dark squares; he seemed to have been in a Thirty
Years' Warand just escaped from it with a sticking-plaster shirt.
Still morehis very legs were markedas 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 South Seasand 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 shudderingfor now the savage went about
something that completely fascinated my attentionand convinced me
that he must indeed be a heathen. Going to his heavy gregoor
wrapallor dreadnaughtwhich he had previously hung on a chairhe
fumbled in the pocketsand produced at length a curious little
deformed image with a hunch on its backand exactly the colour of a
three days' old Congo baby. Remembering the embalmed headat 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 ebonyI concluded
that it must be nothing but a wooden idolwhich indeed it proved to
be. For now the savage goes up to the empty fire-placeand removing
the papered fire-boardsets up this little hunch-backed imagelike
a tenpinbetween the andirons. The chimney jambs and all the bricks
inside were very sootyso that I thought this fire-place made a very
appropriate little shrine or chapel for his Congo idol.

I now screwed my eyes hard towards the half hidden imagefeeling 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 pocketand
places them carefully before the idol; then laying a bit of ship
biscuit on top and applying the flame from the lamphe kindled the
shavings into a sacrificial blaze. Presentlyafter many hasty
snatches into the fireand 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
littlehe 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 devoteewho 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 firehe took the idol up very
unceremoniouslyand 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 uncomfortablenessand
seeing him now exhibiting strong symptoms of concluding his business
operationsand jumping into bed with meI thought it was high time
now or neverbefore the light was put outto break the spell in
which I had so long been bound.

But the interval I spent in deliberating what to saywas a fatal
one. Taking up his tomahawk from the tablehe examined the head of
it for an instantand then holding it to the lightwith his mouth
at the handlehe puffed out great clouds of tobacco smoke. The next
moment the light was extinguishedand this wild cannibaltomahawk
between his teethsprang into bed with me. I sang outI could not
help it now; and giving a sudden grunt of astonishment he began
feeling me.

Stammering out somethingI knew not whatI rolled away from him
against the walland then conjured himwhoever or whatever he might
beto keep quietand 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-edam-meI

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!"

Speak-e! tell-ee me who-ee be, or dam-me, I kill-e!again growled
the cannibalwhile his horrid flourishings of the tomahawk scattered
the hot tobacco ashes about me till I thought my linen would get on
fire. But thank heavenat that moment the landlord came into the
room light in handand leaping from the bed I ran up to him.

Don't be afraid now,said hegrinning againQueequeg here
wouldn't harm a hair of your head.

Stop your grinning,shouted Iand 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 Queequegpuffing away at his pipe and
sitting up in bed.

You gettee in,he addedmotioning to me with his tomahawkand
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 cleancomely
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 meas I have to be afraid of him.
Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.

Landlord,said Itell 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 Queequeghe at once compliedand 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 Iyou may go.

I turned inand never slept better in my life.


The Counterpane.

Upon waking next morning about daylightI 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
patchworkfull of odd little parti-coloured squares and triangles;
and this arm of his tattooed all over with an interminable Cretan
labyrinth of a figureno two parts of which were of one precise
shade--owing I suppose to his keeping his arm at sea unmethodically
in sun and shadehis shirt sleeves irregularly rolled up at various
times--this same arm of hisI saylooked for all the world like a
strip of that same patchwork quilt. Indeedpartly lying on it as

the arm did when I first awokeI could hardly tell it from the
quiltthey 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 childI well remember a somewhat similar circumstance that befell
me; whether it was a reality or a dreamI never could entirely
settle. The circumstance was this. I had been cutting up some caper
or other--I think it was trying to crawl up the chimneyas I had
seen a little sweep do a few days previous; and my stepmother who
somehow or otherwas all the time whipping meor sending me to bed
supperless--my mother dragged me by the legs out of the chimney and
packed me off to bedthough it was only two o'clock in the afternoon
of the 21st Junethe longest day in the year in our hemisphere. I
felt dreadfully. But there was no help for itso up stairs I went
to my little room in the third floorundressed myself as slowly as
possible so as to kill timeand with a bitter sigh got between the

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 windowand a great rattling of coaches in
the streetsand the sound of gay voices all over the house. I felt
worse and worse--at last I got updressedand softly going down in
my stockinged feetsought out my stepmotherand suddenly threw
myself at her feetbeseeching 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 conscientious of stepmothersand back I had to go to
my room. For several hours I lay there broad awakefeeling a great
deal worse than I have ever done sinceeven 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 eyesand 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 seenand nothing was to be heard; but a
supernatural hand seemed placed in mine. My arm hung over the
counterpaneand the namelessunimaginablesilent form or phantom
to which the hand belongedseemed closely seated by my bed-side.
For what seemed ages piled on agesI lay therefrozen with the most
awful fearsnot daring to drag away my hand; yet ever thinking that
if I could but stir it one single inchthe horrid spell would be
broken. I knew not how this consciousness at last glided away from
me; but waking in the morningI shudderingly remembered it alland
for days and weeks and months afterwards I lost myself in confounding
attempts to explain the mystery. Nayto this very hourI often
puzzle myself with it.

Nowtake away the awful fearand my sensations at feeling the
supernatural hand in mine were very similarin 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 recurredone by onein fixed realityand then I lay only
alive to the comical predicament. For though I tried to move his
arm--unlock his bridegroom clasp--yetsleeping as he washe still
hugged me tightlyas 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 overmy neck feeling as if it were in a
horse-collar; and suddenly felt a slight scratch. Throwing aside the
counterpanethere lay the tomahawk sleeping by the savage's sideas
if it were a hatchet-faced baby. A pretty pickletrulythought I;
abed here in a strange house in the broad daywith a cannibal and a

tomahawk! "Queequeg!--in the name of goodnessQueequegwake!" At
lengthby dint of much wrigglingand loud and incessant
expostulations upon the unbecomingness of his hugging a fellow male
in that matrimonial sort of styleI succeeded in extracting a grunt;
and presentlyhe drew back his armshook himself all over like a
Newfoundland dog just from the waterand sat up in bedstiff as a
pike-stafflooking at meand rubbing his eyes as if he did not
altogether remember how I came to be therethough a dim
consciousness of knowing something about me seemed slowly dawning
over him. MeanwhileI lay quietly eyeing himhaving no serious
misgivings nowand bent upon narrowly observing so curious a
creature. Whenat lasthis mind seemed made up touching the
character of his bedfellowand he becameas it werereconciled to
the fact; he jumped out upon the floorand by certain signs and
sounds gave me to understand thatif it pleased mehe would dress
first and then leave me to dress afterwardsleaving the whole
apartment to myself. Thinks IQueequegunder the circumstances
this is a very civilized overture; butthe truth isthese savages
have an innate sense of delicacysay what you will; it is marvellous
how essentially polite they are. I pay this particular compliment to
Queequegbecause he treated me with so much civility and
considerationwhile I was guilty of great rudeness; staring at him
from the bedand watching all his toilette motions; for the time my
curiosity getting the better of my breeding. Neverthelessa man
like Queequeg you don't see every dayhe and his ways were well
worth unusual regarding.

He commenced dressing at top by donning his beaver hata very tall
oneby the byand then--still minus his trowsers--he hunted up his
boots. What under the heavens he did it forI cannot tellbut his
next movement was to crush himself--boots in handand hat on--under
the bed; whenfrom sundry violent gaspings and strainingsI
inferred he was hard at work booting himself; though by no law of
propriety that I ever heard ofis any man required to be private
when putting on his boots. But Queequegdo you seewas 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 civilizedhe very
probably would not have troubled himself with boots at all; but then
if he had not been still a savagehe never would have dreamt of
getting under the bed to put them on. At lasthe emerged with his
hat very much dented and crushed down over his eyesand began
creaking and limping about the roomas ifnot being much accustomed
to bootshis pair of dampwrinkled cowhide ones--probably not made
to order either--rather pinched and tormented him at the first go off
of a bitter cold morning.

Seeingnowthat there were no curtains to the windowand that the
street being very narrowthe house opposite commanded a plain view
into the roomand observing more and more the indecorous figure that
Queequeg madestaving about with little else but his hat and boots
on; I begged him as well as I couldto accelerate his toilet
somewhatand particularly to get into his pantaloons as soon as
possible. He compliedand then proceeded to wash himself. At that
time in the morning any Christian would have washed his face; but
Queequegto my amazementcontented himself with restricting his
ablutions to his chestarmsand hands. He then donned his
waistcoatand taking up a piece of hard soap on the wash-stand
centre tabledipped it into water and commenced lathering his face.
I was watching to see where he kept his razorwhen lo and beholdhe
takes the harpoon from the bed cornerslips out the long wooden
stockunsheathes the headwhets it a little on his bootand
striding up to the bit of mirror against the wallbegins a vigorous

scrapingor rather harpooning of his cheeks. Thinks IQueequeg
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 madeand how exceedingly sharp the
long straight edges are always kept.

The rest of his toilet was soon achievedand he proudly marched out
of the roomwrapped up in his great pilot monkey jacketand
sporting his harpoon like a marshal's baton.



I quickly followed suitand descending into the bar-room accosted
the grinning landlord very pleasantly. I cherished no malice towards
himthough he had been skylarking with me not a little in the matter
of my bedfellow.

Howevera good laugh is a mighty good thingand rather too scarce a
good thing; the more's the pity. Soif any one manin his own
proper personafford stuff for a good joke to anybodylet him not
be backwardbut let him cheerfully allow himself to spend and be
spent in that way. And the man that has anything bountifully
laughable about himbe 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 previousand whom I had not as yet had a good look at.
They were nearly all whalemen; chief matesand second matesand
third matesand sea carpentersand sea coopersand sea
blacksmithsand harpooneersand ship keepers; a brown and brawny
companywith bosky beards; an unshornshaggy setall 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 tawnbut slightly
bleached withal; HE doubtless has tarried whole weeks ashore. But
who could show a cheek like Queequeg? whichbarred with various
tintsseemed like the Andes' western slopeto show forth in one
arraycontrasting climateszone by zone.

Grub, ho!now cried the landlordflinging open a doorand in we
went to breakfast.

They say that men who have seen the worldthereby become quite at
ease in mannerquite self-possessed in company. Not alwaysthough:
Ledyardthe great New England travellerand Mungo Parkthe Scotch
one; of all menthey possessed the least assurance in the parlor.
But perhaps the mere crossing of Siberia in a sledge drawn by dogs as
Ledyard didor the taking a long solitary walk on an empty stomach
in the negro heart of Africawhich was the sum of poor Mungo's
performances--this kind of travelI saymay not be the very best
mode of attaining a high social polish. Stillfor 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 tableand I was preparing to hear
some good stories about whaling; to my no small surprisenearly
every man maintained a profound silence. And not only thatbut they
looked embarrassed. Yeshere were a set of sea-dogsmany 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 yethere they sat at a social breakfast table--all of
the same callingall 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
bearsthese timid warrior whalemen!

But as for Queequeg--whyQueequeg sat there among them--at the head
of the tabletooit 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
himand using it there without ceremony; reaching over the table
with itto the imminent jeopardy of many headsand grappling the
beefsteaks towards him. But THAT was certainly very coolly done by
himand every one knows that in most people's estimationto do
anything coolly is to do it genteelly.

We will not speak of all Queequeg's peculiarities here; how he
eschewed coffee and hot rollsand applied his undivided attention to
beefsteaksdone rare. Enoughthat when breakfast was over he
withdrew like the rest into the public roomlighted his
tomahawk-pipeand was sitting there quietly digesting and smoking
with his inseparable hat onwhen I sallied out for a stroll.


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 townthat astonishment soon departed upon taking my first
daylight stroll through the streets of New Bedford.

In thoroughfares nigh the docksany considerable seaport will
frequently offer to view the queerest looking nondescripts from
foreign parts. Even in Broadway and Chestnut streetsMediterranean
mariners will sometimes jostle the affrighted ladies. Regent Street
is not unknown to Lascars and Malays; and at Bombayin the Apollo
Greenlive 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 Bedfordactual cannibals stand
chatting at street corners; savages outright; many of whom yet carry
on their bones unholy flesh. It makes a stranger stare.

Butbesides the FeegeeansTongatobooarrsErromanggoans
Pannangiansand Brighggiansandbesides the wild specimens of the
whaling-craft which unheeded reel about the streetsyou will see
other sights still more curiouscertainly more comical. There
weekly arrive in this town scores of green Vermonters and New
Hampshire menall athirst for gain and glory in the fishery. They
are mostly youngof stalwart frames; fellows who have felled
forestsand 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 coatgirdled 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 thatin the dog-dayswill 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 reputationand joins the great whale-fisheryyou
should see the comical things he does upon reaching the seaport. In
bespeaking his sea-outfithe orders bell-buttons to his waistcoats;
straps to his canvas trowsers. Ahpoor Hay-Seed! how bitterly will
burst those straps in the first howling galewhen thou art driven
strapsbuttonsand alldown the throat of the tempest.

But think not that this famous town has only harpooneerscannibals
and bumpkins to show her visitors. Not at all. Still New Bedford is
a queer place. Had it not been for us whalementhat tract of land
would this day perhaps have been in as howling condition as the coast
of Labrador. As it isparts of her back country are enough to
frighten onethey look so bony. The town itself is perhaps the
dearest place to live inin all New England. It is a land of oil
true enough: but not like Canaan; a landalsoof corn and wine.
The streets do not run with milk; nor in the spring-time do they pave
them with fresh eggs. Yetin spite of thisnowhere in all America
will you find more patrician-like houses; parks and gardens more
opulentthan 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
mansionand your question will be answered. Yes; all these brave
houses and flowery gardens came from the AtlanticPacificand
Indian oceans. One and allthey were harpooned and dragged up
hither from the bottom of the sea. Can Herr Alexander perform a feat
like that?

In New Bedfordfathersthey saygive whales for dowers to their
daughtersand portion off their nieces with a few porpoises a-piece.
You must go to New Bedford to see a brilliant wedding; forthey
saythey have reservoirs of oil in every houseand every night
recklessly burn their lengths in spermaceti candles.

In summer timethe town is sweet to see; full of fine maples--long
avenues of green and gold. And in Augusthigh in airthe beautiful
and bountiful horse-chestnutscandelabra-wiseproffer 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 Bedfordthey 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 theirsye cannotsave in Salemwhere they tell
me the young girls breathe such musktheir sailor sweethearts smell
them miles off shoreas though they were drawing nigh the odorous
Moluccas instead of the Puritanic sands.


The Chapel.

In this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman's Chapeland few

are the moody fishermenshortly bound for the Indian Ocean or
Pacificwho fail to make a Sunday visit to the spot. I am sure that
I did not.

Returning from my first morning strollI again sallied out upon this
special errand. The sky had changed from clearsunny coldto
driving sleet and mist. Wrapping myself in my shaggy jacket of the
cloth called bearskinI fought my way against the stubborn storm.
EnteringI found a small scattered congregation of sailorsand
sailors' wives and widows. A muffled silence reignedonly broken at
times by the shrieks of the storm. Each silent worshipper seemed
purposely sitting apart from the otheras 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 tabletswith black bordersmasoned into the wall on
either side the pulpit. Three of them ran something like the
followingbut I do not pretend to quote:-

Whoat the age of eighteenwas lost overboard
Near the Isle of Desolationoff Patagonia
November 1st1836.
Is erected to his Memory

Forming one of the boats' crews
Who were towed out of sight by a Whale
On the Off-shore Ground in the
December 31st1839.
Is here placed by their surviving

The late
Who in the bows of his boat was killed by a
Sperm Whale on the coast of Japan
AUGUST 3d1833.
Is erected to his Memory

Shaking off the sleet from my ice-glazed hat and jacketI seated
myself near the doorand turning sideways was surprised to see

Queequeg near me. Affected by the solemnity of the scenethere 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 readandthereforewas
not reading those frigid inscriptions on the wall. Whether any of
the relatives of the seamen whose names appeared there were now among
the congregationI knew not; but so many are the unrecorded
accidents in the fisheryand 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 thosein whose
unhealing 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--hereHERE 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 Faithand
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 creaturesthe dead of mankind are included;
why it is that a universal proverb says of themthat they tell no
talesthough containing more secrets than the Goodwin Sands; how it
is that to his name who yesterday departed for the other worldwe
prefix so significant and infidel a wordand yet do not thus entitle
himif he but embarks for the remotest Indies of this living earth;
why the Life Insurance Companies pay death-forfeitures upon
immortals; in what eternalunstirring paralysisand deadly
hopeless tranceyet lies antique Adam who died sixty round centuries
ago; how it is that we still refuse to be comforted for those who we
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 Faithlike a jackalfeeds among the tombsand even from these
dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope.

It needs scarcely to be toldwith what feelingson the eve of a
Nantucket voyageI regarded those marble tabletsand by the murky
light of that darkeneddoleful day read the fate of the whalemen who
had gone before me. YesIshmaelthe same fate may be thine. But
somehow I grew merry again. Delightful inducements to embarkfine
chance for promotionit seems--ayea stove boat will make me an
immortal by brevet. Yesthere 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 spiritualwe are too much like oysters observing the sun
through the waterand 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 willtake it I sayit is not me. And therefore three
cheers for Nantucket; and come a stove boat and stove body when they
willfor stave my soulJove himself cannot.


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 hima quick regardful eyeing of him by all the
congregationsufficiently attested that this fine old man was the
chaplain. Yesit was the famous Father Mappleso called by the
whalemenamong whom he was a very great favourite. He had been a
sailor and a harpooneer in his youthbut 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 youthfor
among all the fissures of his wrinklesthere 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
historycould for the first time behold Father Mapple without the
utmost interestbecause there were certain engrafted clerical
peculiarities about himimputable to that adventurous maritime life
he had led. When he entered I observed that he carried no umbrella
and certainly had not come in his carriagefor his tarpaulin hat ran
down with melting sleetand his great pilot cloth jacket seemed
almost to drag him to the floor with the weight of the water it had
absorbed. Howeverhat and coat and overshoes were one by one
removedand hung up in a little space in an adjacent corner; when
arrayed in a decent suithe quietly approached the pulpit.

Like most old fashioned pulpitsit was a very lofty oneand since a
regular stairs to such a height wouldby its long angle with the
floorseriously contract the already small area of the chapelthe
architectit seemedhad acted upon the hint of Father Mappleand
finished the pulpit without a stairssubstituting a perpendicular
side ladderlike 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 ladderwhichbeing itself
nicely headedand stained with a mahogany colourthe whole
contrivanceconsidering what manner of chapel it wasseemed by no
means in bad taste. Halting for an instant at the foot of the
ladderand with both hands grasping the ornamental knobs of the
man-ropesFather Mapple cast a look upwardsand then with a truly
sailor-like but still reverential dexterityhand over handmounted
the steps as if ascending the main-top of his vessel.

The perpendicular parts of this side ladderas is usually the case
with swinging oneswere of cloth-covered ropeonly the rounds were
of woodso that at every step there was a joint. At my first
glimpse of the pulpitit had not escaped me that however convenient
for a shipthese joints in the present instance seemed unnecessary.
For I was not prepared to see Father Mapple after gaining the height
slowly turn roundand stooping over the pulpitdeliberately drag up
the ladder step by steptill the whole was deposited withinleaving
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
sanctitythat I could not suspect him of courting notoriety by any
mere tricks of the stage. Nothought Ithere must be some sober
reason for this thing; furthermoreit must symbolize something
unseen. Can it bethenthat by that act of physical isolationhe
signifies his spiritual withdrawal for the timefrom all outward
worldly ties and connexions? Yesfor replenished with the meat and
wine of the wordto the faithful man of Godthis pulpitI seeis
a self-containing stronghold--a lofty Ehrenbreitsteinwith 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 pulpitthe 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
cloudsthere floated a little isle of sunlightfrom which beamed
forth an angel's face; and this bright face shed a distinct spot of
radiance upon the ship's tossed decksomething like that silver
plate now inserted into the Victory's plank where Nelson fell. "Ah
noble ship the angel seemed to say, beat onbeat onthou noble
shipand 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 bowsand the Holy Bible rested on a
projecting piece of scroll workfashioned 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; the pulpit
leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God's quick wrath is
first descriedand the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From
thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for
favourable winds. Yesthe world's a ship on its passage outand not
a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.


The Sermon.

Father Mapple roseand 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 benchesand a
still slighter shuffling of women's shoesand all was quiet again
and every eye on the preacher.

He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit's bowsfolded his
large brown hands across his chestuplifted his closed eyesand
offered a prayer so deeply devout that he seemed kneeling and praying
at the bottom of the sea.

This endedin prolonged solemn toneslike 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 stanzasburst forth with a pealing exultation and

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.

I saw the opening maw of hell
With endless pains and sorrows there;
Which none but they that feel can tell--
OhI 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;
Awfulyet brightas 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 shipmatesclinch 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 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

With this sin of disobedience in himJonah still further flouts at
Godby seeking to flee from Him. He thinks that a ship made by men
will carry him into countries where God does not reignbut only the
Captains of this earth. He skulks about the wharves of Joppaand
seeks a ship that's bound for Tarshish. There lurksperhapsa
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 Cadizshipmates? Cadiz is in Spain; as
far by waterfrom Joppaas Jonah could possibly have sailed in
those ancient dayswhen the Atlantic was an almost unknown sea.
Because Joppathe modern Jaffashipmatesis on the most easterly
coast of the Mediterraneanthe Syrian; and Tarshish or Cadiz more
than two thousand miles to the westward from thatjust outside the
Straits of Gibraltar. See ye not thenshipmatesthat Jonah sought
to flee world-wide from God? Miserable man! Oh! most contemptible
and worthy of all scorn; with slouched hat and guilty eyeskulking
from his God; prowling among the shipping like a vile burglar
hastening to cross the seas. So disorderedself-condemning is his

lookthat had there been policemen in those daysJonahon the mere
suspicion of something wronghad been arrested ere he touched a
deck. How plainly he's a fugitive! no baggagenot a hat-box
valiseor carpet-bag--no friends accompany him to the wharf with
their adieux. At lastafter much dodging searchhe finds the
Tarshish ship receiving the last items of her cargo; and as he steps
on board to see its Captain in the cabinall the sailors for the
moment desist from hoisting in the goodsto 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 wayone whispers to the other--"Jackhe's robbed
a widow;" orJoe, do you mark him; he's a bigamist;orHarry
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 mooredoffering five hundred gold coins for the
apprehension of a parricideand containing a description of his
person. He readsand looks from Jonah to the bill; while all his
sympathetic shipmates now crowd round Jonahprepared to lay their
hands upon him. Frighted Jonah tremblesand summoning all his
boldness to his faceonly 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 advertisedthey let him passand 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

Now Jonah's Captainshipmateswas one whose discernment detects
crime in anybut whose cupidity exposes it only in the penniless.
In this worldshipmatessin that pays its way can travel freely
and without a passport; whereas Virtueif a pauperis stopped at
all frontiers. So Jonah's Captain prepares to test the length of
Jonah's purseere 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 forgerany wayhe mutters; and Jonah is
put down for his passage. 'Point out my state-roomSir' says Jonah
now'I'm travel-weary; I need sleep.' 'Thou lookest like it' says
the Captain'there's thy room.' Jonah entersand would lock the
doorbut the lock contains no key. Hearing him foolishly fumbling
therethe Captain laughs lowly to himselfand mutters something
about the doors of convicts' cells being never allowed to be locked
within. All dressed and dusty as he isJonah throws himself into
his berthand finds the little state-room ceiling almost resting on
his forehead. The air is closeand Jonah gasps. Thenin that

contracted holesunktoobeneath the ship's water-lineJonah
feels the heralding presentiment of that stifling hourwhen the
whale shall hold him in the smallest of his bowels' wards.

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 bedstill
reelingbut with conscience yet pricking himas 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 anguishpraying God for annihilation until the fit be passed;
and at last amid the whirl of woe he feelsa deep stupor steals over
himas over the man who bleeds to deathfor conscience is the
woundand there's naught to staunch it; soafter sore wrestlings in
his berthJonah'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 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 attitudesthe God-fugitive is now too plainly known. The
sailors mark him; more and more certain grow their suspicions of him
and at lastfully to test the truthby referring the whole matter
to high Heaventhey fall to casting lotsto see for whose
cause this great tempest was upon them. The lot is Jonah's; that
discoveredthen how furiously they mob him with their questions.
'What is thine occupation? Whence comest thou? Thy country? What
people? But mark nowmy shipmatesthe behavior of poor Jonah. The

eager mariners but ask him who he isand where from; whereasthey
not only receive an answer to those questionsbut likewise another
answer to a question not put by thembut the unsolicited answer is
forced from Jonah by the hard hand of God that is upon him.

'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 eastand the sea
is stillas Jonah carries down the gale with himleaving 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 teethlike so many white boltsupon his prison. Then
Jonah prayed unto the Lord out of the fish's belly. But observe his
prayerand learn a weighty lesson. For sinful as he isJonah does
not weep and wail for direct deliverance. He feels that his dreadful
punishment is just. He leaves all his deliverance to Godcontenting
himself with thisthat spite of all his pains and pangshe will
still look towards His holy temple. And hereshipmatesis true and
faithful repentance; not clamorous for pardonbut grateful for
punishment. And how pleasing to God was this conduct in Jonahis
shown in the eventual deliverance of him from the sea and the whale.
ShipmatesI 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 dotake heed to repent of it like Jonah."

While he was speaking these wordsthe howling of the shrieking
slanting storm without seemed to add new power to the preacherwho
when describing Jonah's sea-stormseemed 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 browand the light leaping from his eyemade all
his simple hearers look on him with a quick fear that was strange to

There now came a lull in his lookas he silently turned over the
leaves of the Book once more; andat laststanding motionlesswith
closed eyesfor the momentseemed communing with God and himself.

But again he leaned over towards the peopleand bowing his head
lowlywith an aspect of the deepest yet manliest humilityhe 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 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

Thisshipmatesthis 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 whoin this worldcourts not dishonour! Woe
to him who would not be trueeven though to be false were salvation!
Yeawoe to him whoas the great Pilot Paul has itwhile preaching
to others is himself a castaway!"

He dropped and fell away from himself for a moment; then lifting his
face to them againshowed a deep joy in his eyesas he cried out
with a heavenly enthusiasm--"But oh! shipmates! on the starboard
hand of every woethere is a sure delight; and higher the top of
that delightthan 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 upwardand inward delight--who against the proud gods and
commodores of this earthever stands forth his own inexorable self.
Delight is to him whose strong arms yet support himwhen the ship of
this base treacherous world has gone down beneath him. Delight is to
himwho gives no quarter in the truthand killsburnsand
destroys all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of
Senators and Judges. Delight--top-gallant delight is to himwho
acknowledges no law or lordbut the Lord his Godand is only a
patriot to heaven. Delight is to himwhom 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
hiswho coming to lay him downcan say with his final breath--O
Father!--chiefly known to me by Thy rod--mortal or immortalhere I
die. I have striven to be Thinemore than to be this world'sor
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 morebut slowly waving a benedictioncovered his face
with his handsand so remained kneelingtill all the people had
departedand he was left alone in the place.


A Bosom Friend.

Returning to the Spouter-Inn from the ChapelI found Queequeg there
quite alone; he having left the Chapel before the benediction some
time. He was sitting on a bench before the firewith his feet on
the stove hearthand in one hand was holding close up to his face
that little negro idol of his; peering hard into its faceand with a
jack-knife gently whittling away at its nosemeanwhile humming to
himself in his heathenish way.

But being now interruptedhe put up the image; and pretty soon
going to the tabletook up a large book thereand placing it on his
lap began counting the pages with deliberate regularity; at every
fiftieth page--as I fancied--stopping a momentlooking vacantly
around himand 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 timeas though he could not count
more than fiftyand it was only by such a large number of fifties
being found togetherthat his astonishment at the multitude of pages
was excited.

With much interest I sat watching him. Savage though he wasand
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
tattooingsI thought I saw the traces of a simple honest heart; and
in his largedeep eyesfiery black and boldthere seemed tokens of
a spirit that would dare a thousand devils. And besides all this
there was a certain lofty bearing about the Paganwhich even his
uncouthness could not altogether maim. He looked like a man who had
never cringed and never had had a creditor. Whether it wastoo
that his head being shavedhis forehead was drawn out in freer and
brighter reliefand 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 ridiculousbut it
reminded me of General Washington's headas seen in the popular
busts of him. It had the same long regularly graded retreating slope
from above the browswhich were likewise very projectinglike two
long promontories thickly wooded on top. Queequeg was George
Washington cannibalistically developed.

Whilst I was thus closely scanning himhalf-pretending meanwhile to
be looking out at the storm from the casementhe never heeded my
presencenever 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 previousand especially considering the affectionate arm I had
found thrown over me upon waking in the morningI 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
allor but very littlewith 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;
yetupon second thoughtsthere was something almost sublime in it.
Here was a man some twenty thousand miles from homeby the way of
Cape Hornthat 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 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. Butperhapsto
be true philosopherswe 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 philosopherI conclude thatlike the dyspeptic
old womanhe must have "broken his digester."

As I sat there in that now lonely room; the fire burning lowin that
mild stage whenafter its first intensity has warmed the airit
then only glows to be looked at; the evening shades and phantoms
gathering round the casementsand 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 sathis 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 othersthey were
the very magnets that thus drew me. I'll try a pagan friendthought
Isince Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy. I drew
my bench near himand made some friendly signs and hintsdoing my
best to talk with him meanwhile. At first he little noticed these
advances; but presentlyupon my referring to his last night's
hospitalitieshe 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 togetherand I endeavored to explain to
him the purpose of the printingand 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 tomahawkhe quietly offered me a puff. And
then we sat exchanging puffs from that wild pipe of hisand keeping
it regularly passing between us.

If there yet lurked any ice of indifference towards me in the Pagan's
breastthis pleasantgenial smoke we hadsoon thawed it outand
left us cronies. He seemed to take to me quite as naturally and
unbiddenly as I to him; and when our smoke was overhe pressed his
forehead against mineclasped me round the waistand said that
henceforth we were married; meaningin his country's phrasethat we
were bosom friends; he would gladly die for meif need should be.
In a countrymanthis sudden flame of friendship would have seemed
far too prematurea thing to be much distrusted; but in this simple
savage those old rules would not apply.

After supperand another social chat and smokewe went to our room
together. He made me a present of his embalmed head; took out his
enormous tobacco walletand groping under the tobaccodrew out some
thirty dollars in silver; then spreading them on the tableand
mechanically dividing them into two equal portionspushed one of
them towards meand 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 prayerstook out his
idoland removed the paper fireboard. By certain signs and
symptomsI thought he seemed anxious for me to join him; but well
knowing what was to followI deliberated a moment whetherin case
he invited meI 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 nowIshmaelthat 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. NowQueequeg 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.
ConsequentlyI must then unite with him in his; ergoI 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 donewe undressed and
went to bedat 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 wifethey 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
thenin our hearts' honeymoonlay I and Queequeg--a cosyloving



We had lain thus in bedchatting and napping at short intervalsand
Queequeg now and then affectionately throwing his brown tattooed legs
over mineand then drawing them back; so entirely sociable and free
and easy were we; whenat lastby reason of our confabulations
what little nappishness remained in us altogether departedand we
felt like getting up againthough day-break was yet some way down
the future.

Yeswe became very wakeful; so much so that our recumbent position
began to grow wearisomeand by little and little we found ourselves
sitting up; the clothes well tucked around usleaning against the
head-board with our four knees drawn up close togetherand our two
noses bending over themas if our kneepans were warming-pans. We
felt very nice and snugthe more so since it was so chilly out of
doors; indeed out of bed-clothes tooseeing that there was no fire
in the room. The more soI saybecause truly to enjoy bodily
warmthsome small part of you must be coldfor there is no quality
in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing
exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over
comfortableand have been so a long timethen you cannot be said to
be comfortable any more. But iflike Queequeg and me in the bed
the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled
why thenindeedin the general consciousness you feel most
delightfully and unmistakably warm. For this reason a sleeping
apartment should never be furnished with a firewhich 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 timewhen all
at once I thought I would open my eyes; for when between sheets
whether by day or by nightand whether asleep or awakeI have a way
of always keeping my eyes shutin 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 essencesthough light be more
congenial to our clayey part. Upon opening my eyes thenand coming
out of my own pleasant and self-created darkness into the imposed and

coarse outer gloom of the unilluminated twelve-o'clock-at-nightI
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 saidthat
though I had felt such a strong repugnance to his smoking in the bed
the night beforeyet 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 meeven in bedbecause 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
shoulderswe now passed the Tomahawk from one to the othertill
slowly there grew over us a blue hanging tester of smokeilluminated
by the flame of the new-lit lamp.

Whether it was that this undulating tester rolled the savage away to
far distant scenesI know notbut he now spoke of his native
island; andeager to hear his historyI begged him to go on and
tell it. He gladly complied. Though at the time I but ill
comprehended not a few of his wordsyet subsequent disclosureswhen
I had become more familiar with his broken phraseologynow enable me
to present the whole story such as it may prove in the mere skeleton
I give.



Queequeg was a native of Rokovokoan 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 cloutfollowed by the nibbling goatsas if he were a green
sapling; even thenin Queequeg's ambitious soullurked a strong
desire to see something more of Christendom than a specimen whaler or
two. His father was a High Chiefa 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 vitiatedI fearby the cannibal
propensity he nourished in his untutored youth.

A Sag Harbor ship visited his father's bayand Queequeg sought a
passage to Christian lands. But the shiphaving her full complement
of seamenspurned his suit; and not all the King his father's
influence could prevail. But Queequeg vowed a vow. Alone in his
canoehe paddled off to a distant straitwhich he knew the ship
must pass through when she quitted the island. On one side was a
coral reef; on the other a low tongue of landcovered with mangrove
thickets that grew out into the water. Hiding his canoestill
afloatamong these thicketswith its prow seawardhe sat down in
the sternpaddle low in hand; and when the ship was gliding bylike
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 deckgrappled a ring-bolt thereand
swore not to let it gothough 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 Kingand
Queequeg budged not. Struck by his desperate dauntlessnessand his

wild desire to visit Christendomthe captain at last relentedand
told him he might make himself at home. But this fine young
savage--this sea Prince of Walesnever saw the Captain's cabin.
They put him down among the sailorsand made a whaleman of him. But
like Czar Peter content to toil in the shipyards of foreign cities
Queequeg disdained no seeming ignominyif 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 desire to learn
among the Christiansthe arts whereby to make his people still
happier than they were; and more than thatstill better than they
were. Butalas! the practices of whalemen soon convinced him that
even Christians could be both miserable and wicked; infinitely more
sothan all his father's heathens. Arrived at last in old Sag
Harbor; and seeing what the sailors did there; and then going on to
Nantucketand seeing how they spent their wages in that place also
poor Queequeg gave it up for lost. Thought heit's a wicked world
in all meridians; I'll die a pagan.

And thus an old idolator at hearthe yet lived among these
Christianswore their clothesand tried to talk their gibberish.
Hence the queer ways about himthough now some time from home.

By hintsI asked him whether he did not propose going backand
having a coronation; since he might now consider his father dead and
gonehe being very old and feeble at the last accounts. He answered
nonot yet; and added that he was fearful Christianityor rather
Christianshad unfitted him for ascending the pure and undefiled
throne of thirty pagan Kings before him. But by and byhe saidhe
would return--as soon as he felt himself baptized again. For the
noncehoweverhe proposed to sail aboutand sow his wild oats in
all four oceans. They had made a harpooneer of himand that barbed
iron was in lieu of a sceptre now.

I asked him what might be his immediate purposetouching his future
movements. He answeredto go to sea againin his old vocation.
Upon thisI told him that whaling was my own designand informed
him of my intention to sail out of Nantucketas being the most
promising port for an adventurous whaleman to embark from. He at
once resolved to accompany me to that islandship aboard the same
vesselget into the same watchthe same boatthe same mess with
mein short to share my every hap; with both my hands in hisboldly
dip into the Potluck of both worlds. To all this I joyously
assented; for besides the affection I now felt for Queequeghe was
an experienced harpooneerand as suchcould not fail to be of great
usefulness to onewholike mewas wholly ignorant of the mysteries
of whalingthough well acquainted with the seaas known to merchant

His story being ended with his pipe's last dying puffQueequeg
embraced mepressed his forehead against mineand blowing out the
lightwe rolled over from each otherthis way and thatand very
soon were sleeping.



Next morningMondayafter disposing of the embalmed head to a
barberfor a blockI settled my own and comrade's bill; using
howevermy comrade's money. The grinning landlordas well as the
boardersseemed 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 wheelbarrowand embarking our thingsincluding my own
poor carpet-bagand Queequeg's canvas sack and hammockaway 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 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, Queequegyou might have known better than
thatone would think. Didn't the people laugh?"

Upon thishe told me another story. The people of his island of
Rokovokoit seemsat their wedding feasts 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 Rokovokoand its commander--from all
accountsa very stately punctilious gentlemanat least for a sea
captain--this commander was invited to the wedding feast of
Queequeg's sistera pretty young princess just turned of ten. Well;
when all the wedding guests were assembled at the bride's bamboo
cottagethis Captain marches inand being assigned the post of
honourplaced himself over against the punchbowland between the
High Priest and his majesty the KingQueequeg's father. Grace being
said--for those people have their grace as well as we--though
Queequeg told me that unlike uswho at such times look downwards to
our platterstheyon the contrarycopying the ducksglance
upwards to the great Giver of all feasts--GraceI saybeing said
the High Priest opens the banquet by the immemorial ceremony of the
island; that isdipping his consecrated and consecrating fingers
into the bowl before the blessed beverage circulates. Seeing himself
placed next the Priestand noting the ceremonyand thinking
himself--being Captain of a ship--as having plain precedence over a
mere island Kingespecially 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 lastpassage paidand luggage safewe stood on board the
schooner. Hoisting sailit glided down the Acushnet river. On one
sideNew Bedford rose in terraces of streetstheir ice-covered
trees all glittering in the clearcold air. Huge hills and
mountains of casks on casks were piled upon her wharvesand side by

side the world-wandering whale ships lay silent and safely moored at
last; while from others came a sound of carpenters and cooperswith
blended noises of fires and forges to melt the pitchall betokening
that new cruises were on the start; that one most perilous and long
voyage endedonly begins a second; and a second endedonly begins a
thirdand so onfor ever and for aye. Such is the endlessness
yeathe intolerableness of all earthly effort.

Gaining the more open waterthe bracing breeze waxed fresh; the
little Moss tossed the quick foam from her bowsas 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 slavish heels and hoofs; and turned me to admire the magnanimity
of the sea which will permit no records.

At the same foam-fountainQueequeg seemed to drink and reel with me.
His dusky nostrils swelled apart; he showed his filed and pointed
teeth. Onon we flew; and our offing gainedthe Moss did homage to
the blast; ducked and dived her bows as a slave before the Sultan.
Sideways leaningwe 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 weas we stood by the
plunging bowspritthat for some time we did not notice the jeering
glances of the passengersa lubber-like assemblywho 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 therewhoby their intense
greennessmust 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
harpoonthe brawny savage caught him in his armsand by an almost
miraculous dexterity and strengthsent him high up bodily into the
air; then slightly tapping his stern in mid-somersetthe fellow
landed with bursting lungs upon his feetwhile Queequegturning his
back upon himlighted his tomahawk pipe and passed it to me for a

Capting! Capting! yelled the bumpkin, running towards that officer;
CaptingCaptinghere's the devil."

Hallo, YOU sir,cried the Captaina gaunt rib of the seastalking
up to Queequegwhat in thunder do you mean by that? Don't you know
you might have killed that chap?

What him say?said Queequegas he mildly turned to me.

He say,said Ithat you came near kill-e that man there,
pointing to the still shivering greenhorn.

Kill-e,cried Queequegtwisting his tattooed face into an
unearthly expression of disdainah! him bevy small-e fish-e;
Queequeg no kill-e so small-e fish-e; Queequeg kill-e big whale!

Look you,roared the CaptainI'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 thenthat it was high time for the Captain
to mind his own eye. The prodigious strain upon the main-sail had
parted the weather-sheetand the tremendous boom was now flying from
side to sidecompletely sweeping the entire after part of the deck.
The poor fellow whom Queequeg had handled so roughlywas swept
overboard; all hands were in a panic; and to attempt snatching at the
boom to stay itseemed madness. It flew from right to leftand
back againalmost in one ticking of a watchand 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 bowsand 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 kneesand crawling under the path of
the boomwhipped hold of a ropesecured one end to the bulwarks
and then flinging the other like a lassocaught it round the boom as
it swept over his headand at the next jerkthe spar was that way
trappedand all was safe. The schooner was run into the windand
while the hands were clearing away the stern boatQueequegstripped
to the waistdarted from the side with a long living arc of a leap.
For three minutes or more he was seen swimming like a dogthrowing
his long arms straight out before himand by turns revealing his
brawny shoulders through the freezing foam. I looked at the grand
and glorious fellowbut saw no one to be saved. The greenhorn had
gone down. Shooting himself perpendicularly from the water
Queequegnow took an instant's glance around himand seeming to see
just how matters weredived down and disappeared. A few minutes
moreand he rose againone arm still striking outand 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; yeatill 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 donehe put on dry clotheslighted his pipeand leaning
against the bulwarksand mildly eyeing those around himseemed to
be saying to himself--"It's a mutualjoint-stock worldin all
meridians. We cannibals must help these Christians."



Nothing more happened on the passage worthy the mentioning; soafter
a fine runwe 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 thereaway off shoremore
lonely than the Eddystone lighthouse. Look at it--a mere hillock
and elbow of sand; all beachwithout 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 therethey 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 housesto get under the shade in summer
time; that one blade of grass makes an oasisthree blades in a day's
walk a prairie; that they wear quicksand shoessomething like
Laplander snow-shoes; that they are so shut upbelted aboutevery
way inclosedsurroundedand made an utter island of by the ocean
that to their very chairs and tables small clams will sometimes be
found adheringas 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 coastand 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 canoesafter a
perilous passage they discovered the islandand there they found an
empty ivory casket--the poor little Indian's skeleton.

What wonderthenthat these Nantucketersborn on a beachshould
take to the sea for a livelihood! They first caught crabs and
quohogs in the sand; grown bolderthey waded out with nets for
mackerel; more experiencedthey pushed off in boats and captured
cod; and at lastlaunching 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
and most mountainous! That Himmalehansalt-sea Mastodonclothed
with such portentousness of unconscious powerthat his very panics
are more to be dreaded than his most fearless and malicious assaults!

And thus have these naked Nantucketersthese sea hermitsissuing
from their ant-hill in the seaoverrun and conquered the watery
world like so many Alexanders; parcelling out among them the
AtlanticPacificand Indian oceansas the three pirate powers did
Poland. Let America add Mexico to Texasand pile Cuba upon Canada;
let the English overswarm all Indiaand 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 itas 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 privateersthough following the sea as highwaymen the
roadthey but plunder other shipsother fragments of the land like
themselveswithout seeking to draw their living from the bottomless
deep itself. The Nantucketerhe alone resides and riots on the sea;
he alonein Bible languagegoes down to it in ships; to and fro
ploughing it as his own special plantation. THERE is his home; THERE
lies his businesswhich a Noah's flood would not interruptthough
it overwhelmed all the millions in China. He lives on the seaas
prairie cocks in the prairie; he hides among the waveshe climbs
them as chamois hunters climb the Alps. For years he knows not the
land; so that when he comes to it at lastit smells like another
worldmore strangely than the moon would to an Earthsman. With the
landless gullthat at sunset folds her wings and is rocked to sleep
between billows; so at nightfallthe Nantucketerout of sight of
landfurls his sailsand lays him to his restwhile under his very
pillow rush herds of walruses and whales.



It was quite late in the evening when the little Moss came snugly to
anchorand Queequeg and I went ashore; so we could attend to no
business that dayat 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 Potswhom he asserted to be the proprietor of one
of the best kept hotels in all Nantucketand moreover he had assured
us that Cousin Hoseaas he called himwas famous for his chowders.
In shorthe 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 larboardand then keeping that on the larboard

hand till we made a corner three points to the starboardand that
donethen ask the first man we met where the place was: these
crooked directions of his very much puzzled us at firstespecially
asat the outsetQueequeg insisted that the yellow warehouse--our
first point of departure--must be left on the larboard handwhereas
I had understood Peter Coffin to say it was on the starboard.
Howeverby dint of beating about a little in the darkand now and
then knocking up a peaceable inhabitant to inquire the waywe at
last came to something which there was no mistaking.

Two enormous wooden pots painted blackand suspended by asses' ears
swung from the cross-trees of an old top-mastplanted in front of an
old doorway. The horns of the cross-trees were sawed off on the
other sideso that this old top-mast looked not a little like a
gallows. Perhaps I was over sensitive to such impressions at the
timebut 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; yesTWO of themone for Queequegand one for me.
It's ominousthinks 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 gownstanding in the porch of the inn
under a dull red lamp swinging therethat looked much like an
injured eyeand carrying on a brisk scolding with a man in a purple
woollen shirt.

Get along with ye,said she to the manor I'll be combing ye!

Come on, Queequeg,said Iall right. There's Mrs. Hussey.

And so it turned out; Mr. Hosea Hussey being from homebut leaving
Mrs. Hussey entirely competent to attend to all his affairs. Upon
making known our desires for a supper and a bedMrs. Hussey
postponing further scolding for the presentushered us into a little
roomand seating us at a table spread with the relics of a recently
concluded repastturned round to us and said--"Clam or Cod?"

What's that about Cods, ma'am?said Iwith much politeness.

Clam or Cod?she repeated.

A clam for supper? a cold clam; is THAT what you mean, Mrs. Hussey?
says Ibut 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
Shirtwho was waiting for it in the entryand seeming to hear
nothing but the word "clam Mrs. 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?"

Howevera warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the
apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking
chowder came inthe mystery was delightfully explained. Ohsweet
friends! hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clamsscarcely
bigger than hazel nutsmixed with pounded ship biscuitand salted
pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butterand
plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Our appetites being
sharpened by the frosty voyageand in particularQueequeg seeing

his favourite fishing food before himand the chowder being
surpassingly excellentwe despatched it with great expedition: when
leaning back a moment and bethinking me of Mrs. Hussey's clam and cod
announcementI thought I would try a little experiment. Stepping to
the kitchen doorI uttered the word "cod" with great emphasisand
resumed my seat. In a few moments the savoury steam came forth
againbut with a different flavorand in good time a fine
cod-chowder was placed before us.

We resumed business; and while plying our spoons in the bowlthinks
I to myselfI wonder now if this here has any effect on the head?
What's that stultifying saying about chowder-headed people? "But
lookQueequegain't that a live eel in your bowl? Where's your

Fishiest of all fishy places was the Try Potswhich well deserved
its name; for the pots there were always boiling chowders. Chowder
for breakfastand chowder for dinnerand chowder for suppertill
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 milktoowhich I could not at all account fortill
one morning happening to take a stroll along the beach among some
fishermen's boatsI saw Hosea's brindled cow feeding on fish
remnantsand marching along the sand with each foot in a cod's
decapitated headlooking very slip-shodI assure ye.

Supper concludedwe received a lampand directions from Mrs. Hussey
concerning the nearest way to bed; butas Queequeg was about to
precede me up the stairsthe lady reached forth her armand
demanded his harpoon; she allowed no harpoon in her chambers. "Why
not? said 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 hiswhen he was gone four years
and a halfwith only three barrels of ILEwas found dead in my
first floor backwith his harpoon in his side; ever since then I
allow no boarders to take sich dangerous weepons in their rooms at
night. SoMr. 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


The Ship.

In bed we concocted our plans for the morrow. But to my surprise and
no small concernQueequeg now gave me to understandthat he had
been diligently consulting Yojo--the name of his black little
god--and Yojo had told him two or three times overand strongly
insisted upon it everywaythat instead of our going together among
the whaling-fleet in harborand in concert selecting our craft;
instead of thisI sayYojo earnestly enjoined that the selection of
the ship should rest wholly with meinasmuch as Yojo purposed
befriending us; andin order to do sohad already pitched upon a
vesselwhichif left to myselfIIshmaelshould infallibly light
uponfor all the world as though it had turned out by chance; and in
that vessel I must immediately ship myselffor the present

irrespective of Queequeg.

I have forgotten to mention thatin many thingsQueequeg placed
great confidence in the excellence of Yojo's judgment and surprising
forecast of things; and cherished Yojo with considerable esteemas a
rather good sort of godwho perhaps meant well enough upon the
wholebut in all cases did not succeed in his benevolent designs.

Nowthis plan of Queequeg'sor rather Yojo'stouching 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 QueequegI was obliged to
acquiesce; and accordingly prepared to set about this business with a
determined rushing sort of energy and vigorthat should quickly
settle that trifling little affair. Next morning earlyleaving
Queequeg shut up with Yojo in our little bedroom--for it seemed that
it was some sort of Lent or Ramadanor day of fastinghumiliation
and prayer with Queequeg and Yojo that day; HOW it was I never could
find outforthough I applied myself to it several timesI never
could master his liturgies and XXXIX Articles--leaving Queequeg
thenfasting on his tomahawk pipeand Yojo warming himself at his
sacrificial fire of shavingsI sallied out among the shipping.
After much prolonged sauntering and many random inquiriesI learnt
that there were three ships up for three-years' voyages--The
Devil-damthe Tit-bitand the Pequod. DEVIL-DAMI do not know
the origin of; TIT-BIT is obvious; PEQUODyou will no doubt
rememberwas the name of a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts
Indians; now extinct as the ancient Medes. I peered and pryed about
the Devil-dam; from herhopped over to the Tit-bit; and finally
going on board the Pequodlooked around her for a momentand then
decided that this was the very ship for us.

You may have seen many a quaint craft in your dayfor aught I
know;--square-toed luggers; mountainous Japanese junks; butter-box
galliotsand what not; but take my word for ityou never saw such a
rare old craft as this same rare old Pequod. She was a ship of the
old schoolrather 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 oceansher old hull's complexion was
darkened like a French grenadier'swho has alike fought in Egypt and
Siberia. Her venerable bows looked bearded. Her masts--cut
somewhere on the coast of Japanwhere 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
wrinkledlike the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in Canterbury
Cathedral where Becket bled. But to all these her old antiquities
were added new and marvellous featurespertaining to the wild
business that for more than half a century she had followed. Old
Captain Pelegmany years her chief-matebefore he commanded another
vessel of his ownand now a retired seamanand one of the principal
owners of the Pequod--this old Pelegduring the term of his
chief-mateshiphad built upon her original grotesquenessand inlaid
itall overwith 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 crafttricking herself forth in the
chased bones of her enemies. All roundher unpanelledopen
bulwarks were garnished like one continuous jawwith the long sharp
teeth of the sperm whaleinserted there for pinsto fasten her old
hempen thews and tendons to. Those thews ran not through base blocks
of land woodbut deftly travelled over sheaves of sea-ivory.
Scorning a turnstile wheel at her reverend helmshe sported there a

tiller; and that tiller was in one masscuriously carved from the
long narrow lower jaw of her hereditary foe. The helmsman who
steered by that tiller in a tempestfelt like the Tartarwhen he
holds back his fiery steed by clutching its jaw. A noble craftbut
somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that.

Now when I looked about the quarter-deckfor some one having
authorityin 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 tentor rather wigwampitched a little behind the main-mast. It
seemed only a temporary erection used in port. It was of a conical
shapesome ten feet high; consisting of the longhuge 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 decka
circle of these slabs laced togethermutually sloped towards each
otherand at the apex united in a tufted pointwhere 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 shipso that the insider commanded a complete view

And half concealed in this queer tenementI at length found one who
by his aspect seemed to have authority; and whoit being noonand
the ship's work suspendedwas now enjoying respite from the burden
of command. He was seated on an old-fashioned oaken chairwriggling
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

There was nothing so very particularperhapsabout the appearance
of the elderly man I saw; he was brown and brawnylike most old
seamenand heavily rolled up in blue pilot-clothcut in the Quaker
style; only there was a fine and almost microscopic net-work of the
minutest wrinkles interlacing round his eyeswhich must have arisen
from his continual sailings in many hard galesand 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 Iadvancing 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?

NothingSir; but I have no doubt I shall soon learn. I've been
several voyages in the merchant serviceand I think that--"

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


I protested my innocence of these things. I saw that under the mask
of these half humorous innuendoesthis old seamanas an insulated
Quakerish Nantucketerwas full of his insular prejudicesand rather
distrustful of all aliensunless they hailed from Cape Cod or the

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

Who is Captain Ahab, sir?

Aye, aye, I thought so. Captain Ahab is the Captain of this ship.

I am mistaken then. I thought I was speaking to the Captain

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 energyperhaps also a little touched
at the hearty grief in his concluding exclamationbut said as calmly
as I couldWhat 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.

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 II 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 requestnot
knowing exactly how to take itwhether humorously or in earnest.
But concentrating all his crow's feet into one scowlCaptain Peleg
started me on the errand.

Going forward and glancing over the weather bowI perceived that the
ship swinging to her anchor with the flood-tidewas now obliquely
pointing towards the open ocean. The prospect was unlimitedbut
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

Not much,I replied--"nothing but water; considerable horizon
thoughand there's a squall coming upI 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 staggeredbut go a-whaling I mustand 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 determinedhe expressed
his willingness to ship me.

And thou mayest as well sign the papers right off,he added--"come
along with ye." And so sayinghe led the way below deck into the

Seated on the transom was what seemed to me a most uncommon and
surprising figure. It turned out to be Captain Bildadwho along
with Captain Peleg was one of the largest owners of the vessel; the
other sharesas is sometimes the case in these portsbeing held by
a crowd of old annuitants; widowsfatherless childrenand chancery
wards; each owning about the value of a timber heador a foot of
plankor a nail or two in the ship. People in Nantucket invest
their money in whaling vesselsthe same way that you do yours in
approved state stocks bringing in good interest.

NowBildadlike Pelegand indeed many other Nantucketerswas a
Quakerthe 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 Quakeronly 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

So that there are instances among them of menwhonamed 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; stillfrom the audaciousdaringand boundless
adventure of their subsequent livesstrangely blend with these
unoutgrown peculiaritiesa thousand bold dashes of characternot
unworthy a Scandinavian sea-kingor 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
watersand beneath constellations never seen here at the northbeen
led to think untraditionally and independently; receiving all
nature's sweet or savage impressions fresh from her own virgin
voluntary and confiding breastand thereby chieflybut with some
help from accidental advantagesto learn a bold and nervous lofty
language--that man makes one in a whole nation's census--a mighty
pageant creatureformed for noble tragedies. Nor will it at all
detract from himdramatically regardedif either by birth or other
circumstanceshe have what seems a half wilful overruling morbidness
at the bottom of his nature. For all men tragically great are made
so through a certain morbidness. Be sure of thisO young ambition
all mortal greatness is but disease. Butas yet we have not to do
with such an onebut with quite another; and still a manwhoif
indeed peculiarit only results again from another phase of the
Quakermodified by individual circumstances.

Like Captain PelegCaptain Bildad was a well-to-doretired
whaleman. But unlike Captain Peleg--who cared not a rush for what
are called serious thingsand 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
Quakerismbut all his subsequent ocean lifeand the sight of many
uncladlovely island creaturesround the Horn--all that had not
moved this native born Quaker one single jothad not so much as
altered one angle of his vest. Stillfor all this immutableness
was there some lack of common consistency about worthy Captain
Peleg. Though refusingfrom conscientious scruplesto bear arms
against land invadersyet himself had illimitably invaded the
Atlantic and Pacific; and though a sworn foe to human bloodshedyet
had he in his straight-bodied coatspilled tuns upon tuns of
leviathan gore. How now in the contemplative evening of his days
the pious Bildad reconciled these things in the reminiscenceI do
not know; but it did not seem to concern him muchand very probably
he had long since come to the sage and sensible conclusion that a
man's religion is one thingand this practical world quite another.
This world pays dividends. Rising from a little cabin-boy in short
clothes of the drabbest drabto a harpooneer in a broad shad-bellied
waistcoat; from that becoming boat-headerchief-mateand captain
and finally a ship owner; Bildadas I hinted beforehad concluded
his adventurous career by wholly retiring from active life at the
goodly age of sixtyand dedicating his remaining days to the quiet
receiving of his well-earned income.

NowBildadI am sorry to sayhad the reputation of being an
incorrigible old hunksand in his sea-going daysa bitterhard
task-master. They told me in Nantucketthough it certainly seems a
curious storythat when he sailed the old Categut whalemanhis
crewupon arriving homewere mostly all carried ashore to the
hospitalsore exhausted and worn out. For a pious manespecially
for a Quakerhe was certainly rather hard-heartedto say the
least. He never used to swearthoughat his menthey said; but
somehow he got an inordinate quantity of cruelunmitigated hard work
out of them. When Bildad was a chief-mateto have his drab-coloured
eye intently looking at youmade you feel completely nervoustill
you could clutch something--a hammer or a marling-spikeand go to
work like madat something or othernever mind what. Indolence and
idleness perished before him. His own person was the exact
embodiment of his utilitarian character. On his longgaunt bodyhe
carried no spare fleshno superfluous beardhis chin having a soft
economical nap to itlike the worn nap of his broad-brimmed hat.

Suchthenwas 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 therebolt-uprightsat old Bildadwho always
sat soand never leanedand 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 nosehe
seemed absorbed in reading from a ponderous volume.

Bildad,cried Captain Pelegat 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
Bildadwithout noticing his present irreverencequietly looked up
and seeing meglanced again inquiringly towards Peleg.

He says he's our man, Bildad,said Peleghe wants to ship.

Dost thee?said Bildadin a hollow toneand turning round to me.

I dost,said I unconsciouslyhe was so intense a Quaker.

What do ye think of him, Bildad?said Peleg.

He'll do,said Bildadeyeing meand then went on spelling away at
his book in a mumbling tone quite audible.

I thought him the queerest old Quaker I ever sawespecially as
Peleghis friend and old shipmateseemed such a blusterer. But I
said nothingonly looking round me sharply. Peleg now threw open a
chestand drawing forth the ship's articlesplaced pen and ink
before himand 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 handsincluding the
captainreceived certain shares of the profits called laysand that
these lays were proportioned to the degree of importance pertaining
to the respective duties of the ship's company. I was also aware
that being a green hand at whalingmy own lay would not be very
large; but considering that I was used to the seacould steer a
shipsplice a ropeand all thatI made no doubt that from all I
had heard I should be offered at least the 275th lay--that isthe
275th part of the clear net proceeds of the voyagewhatever that
might eventually amount to. And though the 275th lay was what they
call a rather LONG LAYyet it was better than nothing; and if we had
a lucky voyagemight pretty nearly pay for the clothing I would wear
out on itnot to speak of my three years' beef and boardfor 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 wasa very poor way indeed. But I am one of
those that never take on about princely fortunesand am quite
content if the world is ready to board and lodge mewhile I am
putting up at this grim sign of the Thunder Cloud. Upon the wholeI
thought that the 275th lay would be about the fair thingbut would not
have been surprised had I been offered the 200thconsidering I was
of a broad-shouldered make.

But one thingneverthelessthat made me a little distrustful about
receiving a generous share of the profits was this: AshoreI had
heard something of both Captain 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 handsespecially as I now found him on
board the Pequodquite at home there in the cabinand reading his
Bible as if at his own fireside. Now while Peleg was vainly trying
to mend a pen with his jack-knifeold Bildadto my no small
surpriseconsidering that he was such an interested party in these
proceedings; Bildad never heeded usbut went on mumbling to himself
out of his bookLAY not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,
where moth--

Well, Captain Bildad,interrupted Pelegwhat d'ye say, what lay
shall we give this young man?

Thou knowest best,was the sepulchral replythe seven hundred and
seventy-seventh wouldn't be too much, would it?--'where moth and rust
do corrupt, but LAY--'

LAYindeedthought Iand such a lay! the seven hundred and
seventy-seventh! Wellold Bildadyou are determined that Ifor
oneshall not LAY up many LAYS here belowwhere moth and rust do
corrupt. It was an exceedingly LONG LAY thatindeed; and though
from the magnitude of the figure it might at first deceive a
landsmanyet the slightest consideration will show that though seven
hundred and seventy-seven is a pretty large numberyetwhen you
come to make a TEENTH of ityou will then seeI saythat 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 Pelegthou dost not want to
swindle this young man! he must have more than that.

Seven hundred and seventy-seventh,again said Bildadwithout
lifting his eyes; and then went on mumbling--"for where your treasure
isthere will your heart be also."

I am going to put him down for the three hundredth,said Pelegdo
ye hear that, Bildad! The three hundredth lay, I say.

Bildad laid down his bookand 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 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 Pelegstarting up and clattering about the
cabin. "Blast yeCaptain Bildadif I had followed thy advice in
these mattersI 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 steadilythy 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!

As he thundered out this he made a rush at Bildadbut with a
marvellous obliquesliding celerityBildad for that time eluded

Alarmed at this terrible outburst between the two principal and
responsible owners of the shipand feeling half a mind to give up
all idea of sailing in a vessel so questionably owned and temporarily
commandedI stepped aside from the door to give egress to Bildad
whoI made no doubtwas all eagerness to vanish from before the
awakened wrath of Peleg. But to my astonishmenthe sat down again
on the transom very quietlyand seemed to have not the slightest
intention of withdrawing. He seemed quite used to impenitent Peleg
and his ways. As for Pelegafter letting off his rage as he had
there seemed no more left in himand hetoosat 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 leewardI think.
Bildadthou used to be good at sharpening a lancemend that pen
will ye. My jack-knife here needs the grindstone. That's he; thank
yeBildad. Now thenmy young manIshmael's thy namedidn't ye
say? Well thendown ye go hereIshmaelfor the three hundredth

Captain Peleg,said II have a friend with me who wants to ship
too--shall I bring him down to-morrow?

To be sure,said Peleg. "Fetch him alongand we'll look at him."

What lay does he want?groaned Bildadglancing 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.

Andafter signing the papersoff I went; nothing doubting but that
I had done a good morning's workand that the Pequod was the
identical ship that Yojo had provided to carry Queequeg and me round
the Cape.

But I had not proceeded farwhen I began to bethink me that the
Captain with whom I was to sail yet remained unseen by me; though
indeedin many casesa whale-ship will be completely fitted out
and receive all her crew on boardere the captain makes himself
visible by arriving to take command; for sometimes these voyages are
so prolongedand the shore intervals at home so exceedingly brief
that if the captain have a familyor any absorbing concernment of
that sorthe does not trouble himself much about his ship in port
but leaves her to the owners till all is ready for sea. Howeverit
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 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 Pelegwith a significance
in his eye that almost startled me. "Look yelad; never say that on
board the Pequod. Never say it anywhere. Captain Ahab did not name
himself. 'Twas a foolishignorant whim of his crazywidowed
motherwho died when he was only a twelvemonth old. And yet the old
squaw Tistigat Gayheadsaid that the name would somehow prove
prophetic. Andperhapsother 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 piousgood manlike Bildadbut a swearing good
man--something like me--only there's a good deal more of him. Aye
ayeI know that he was never very jolly; and I know that on the
passage homehe was a little out of his mind for a spell; but it was
the sharp shooting pains in his bleeding stump that brought that
aboutas any one might see. I knowtoothat ever since he lost
his leg last voyage by that accursed whalehe's been a kind of
moody--desperate moodyand savage sometimes; but that will all pass
off. And once for alllet me tell thee and assure theeyoung 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 Ahabbecause he
happens to have a wicked name. Besidesmy boyhe has a wife--not
three voyages wedded--a sweetresigned girl. Think of that; by that
sweet girl that old man has a child: hold ye then there can be any
utterhopeless harm in Ahab? Nonomy lad; strickenblastedif
he beAhab has his humanities!"

As I walked awayI was full of thoughtfulness; what had been
incidentally revealed to me of Captain Ahabfilled me with a certain
wild vagueness of painfulness concerning him. And somehowat the
timeI felt a sympathy and a sorrow for himbut for I don't know
whatunless it was the cruel loss of his leg. And yet I also felt a
strange awe of him; but that sort of awewhich I cannot at all
describewas 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 himso imperfectly as he
was known to me then. Howevermy thoughts were at length carried in
other directionsso that for the present dark Ahab slipped my mind.


The Ramadan.

As Queequeg's Ramadanor Fasting and Humiliationwas to continue
all dayI did not choose to disturb him till towards night-fall; for
I cherish the greatest respect towards everybody's religious

obligationsnever mind how comicaland 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

I saywe good Presbyterian Christians should be charitable in these
thingsand not fancy ourselves so vastly superior to other mortals
pagans and what notbecause of their half-crazy conceits on these
subjects. There was Queequegnowcertainly entertaining the most
absurd notions about Yojo and his Ramadan;--but what of that?
Queequeg thought he knew what he was aboutI suppose; he seemed to
be content; and there let him rest. All our arguing with him would
not avail; let him beI say: and Heaven have mercy on us
all--Presbyterians and Pagans alike--for we are all somehow
dreadfully cracked about the headand sadly need mending.

Towards eveningwhen I felt assured that all his performances and
rituals must be overI went up to his room and knocked at the door;
but no answer. I tried to open itbut 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 roomthe 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 wallbut nothing more. I was surprised to behold resting
against the wall the wooden shaft of Queequeg's harpoonwhich the
landlady the evening previous had taken from himbefore our mounting
to the chamber. That's strangethought I; but at any ratesince
the harpoon stands yonderand he seldom or never goes abroad without
ittherefore he must be inside hereand no possible mistake.

Queequeg!--Queequeg!--all still. Something must have happened.
Apoplexy! I tried to burst open the door; but it stubbornly
resisted. Running down stairsI quickly stated my suspicions to the
first person I met--the chamber-maid. "La! la!" she criedI
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
criesshe ran towards the kitchenI following.

Mrs. Hussey soon appearedwith a mustard-pot in one hand and a
vinegar-cruet in the otherhaving just broken away from the
occupation of attending to the castorsand scolding her little black
boy meantime.

Wood-house!cried Iwhich 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-handedwhen Mrs. Hussey interposed the
mustard-pot and vinegar-cruetand the entire castor of her

What's the matter with you, young man?

Get the axe! For God's sake, run for the doctor, some one, while I
pry it open!

Look here,said the landladyquickly putting down the
vinegar-cruetso 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

In as calmbut rapid a manner as possibleI gave her to understand
the whole case. Unconsciously clapping the vinegar-cruet to one side
of her noseshe ruminated for an instant; then exclaimed--"No!
haven't seen it since I put it there." Running to a little closet
under the landing of the stairsshe glanced inand returningtold
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?--thereBetty
go to Snarles the Painterand tell him to paint me a signwith--"no
suicides permitted hereand 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? Youyoung manavast there!"

And running up after meshe 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-pockethere's a key that'll fit, I guess;
let's see.And with thatshe turned it in the lock; butalas!
Queequeg's supplemental bolt remained unwithdrawn within.

Have to burst it open,said Iand was running down the entry a
littlefor a good startwhen the landlady caught at meagain
vowing I should not break down her premises; but I tore from herand
with a sudden bodily rush dashed myself full against the mark.

With a prodigious noise the door flew openand the knob slamming
against the wallsent the plaster to the ceiling; and theregood
heavens! there sat Queequegaltogether cool and self-collected;
right in the middle of the room; squatting on his hamsand holding
Yojo on top of his head. He looked neither one way nor the other
waybut sat like a carved image with scarce a sign of active life.

Queequeg,said Igoing up to himQueequeg, what's the matter
with you?

He hain't been a sittin' so all day, has he?said the landlady.

But all we saidnot a word could we drag out of him; I almost felt
like pushing him overso as to change his positionfor it was
almost intolerableit seemed so painfully and unnaturally
constrained; especiallyas in all probability he had been sitting so
for upwards of eight or ten hoursgoing too without his regular

Mrs. Hussey,said Ihe'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 landladyI 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 pegnor say a single wordnor even look at menor notice my
presence in the slightest way.

I wonderthought Iif 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; yesit's part of his creedI suppose; wellthenlet him
rest; he'll get up sooner or laterno doubt. It can't last for
everthank Godand his Ramadan only comes once a year; and I don't
believe it's very punctual then.

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
voyageas they called it (that isa short whaling-voyage in a
schooner or brigconfined to the north of the linein the Atlantic
Ocean only); after listening to these plum-puddingers till nearly
eleven o'clockI went up stairs to go to bedfeeling 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 roomholding a piece of wood on his

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 himthereforeI determined to go to bed and to sleep;
and no doubtbefore a great whilehe would follow me. But previous
to turning inI took my heavy bearskin jacketand threw it over
himas it promised to be a very cold night; and he had nothing but
his ordinary round jacket on. For some timedo all I wouldI could
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 positionstark 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 drearyunaccountable

But somehow I dropped off at lastand knew nothing more till break
of day; whenlooking over the bedsidethere squatted Queequegas
if he had been screwed down to the floor. But as soon as the first
glimpse of sun entered the windowup he gotwith stiff and grating
jointsbut with a cheerful look; limped towards me where I lay;
pressed his forehead again against mine; and said his Ramadan was

Nowas I before hintedI have no objection to any person's
religionbe it what it mayso long as that person does not kill or
insult any other personbecause 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; andin finemakes 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 nowand lie and listen to me." I then went onbeginning with
the rise and progress of the primitive religionsand coming down to
the various religions of the present timeduring which time I
labored to show Queequeg that all these LentsRamadansand
prolonged ham-squattings in coldcheerless rooms were stark
nonsense; bad for the health; useless for the soul; opposedin
shortto the obvious laws of Hygiene and common sense. I told him
toothat he being in other things such an extremely sensible and
sagacious savageit pained mevery badly pained meto see him now
so deplorably foolish about this ridiculous Ramadan of his. Besides
argued Ifasting 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 wordQueequeg
said Irather 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 plainlyso 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 kingon the gaining of a great
battle wherein fifty of the enemy had been killed by about two
o'clock in the afternoonand all cooked and eaten that very evening.

No more, Queequeg,said Ishuddering; "that will do;" for I knew
the inferences without his further hinting them. I had seen a sailor
who had visited that very islandand he told me that it was the
customwhen a great battle had been gained thereto barbecue all
the slain in the yard or garden of the victor; and thenone by one
they were placed in great wooden trenchersand garnished round like
a pilauwith breadfruit and cocoanuts; and with some parsley in
their mouthswere sent round with the victor's compliments to all
his friendsjust as though these presents were so many Christmas

After allI do not think that my remarks about religion made much
impression upon Queequeg. Becausein the first placehe somehow
seemed dull of hearing on that important subjectunless considered
from his own point of view; andin the second placehe did not more
than one third understand mecouch my ideas simply as I would; and
finallyhe 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 compassionas though he thought it a great pity that
such a sensible young man should be so hopelessly lost to evangelical
pagan piety.

At last we rose and dressed; and Queequegtaking a prodigiously
hearty breakfast of chowders of all sortsso that the landlady
should not make much profit by reason of his Ramadanwe sallied out
to board the Pequodsauntering alongand picking our teeth with
halibut bones.


His Mark.

As we were walking down the end of the wharf towards the ship
Queequeg carrying his harpoonCaptain Peleg in his gruff voice
loudly hailed us from his wigwamsaying he had not suspected my
friend was a cannibaland furthermore announcing that he let no
cannibals on board that craftunless they previously produced their

What do you mean by that, Captain Peleg?said Inow jumping on the
bulwarksand leaving my comrade standing on the wharf.

I mean,he repliedhe must show his papers.

Yes,said Captain Bildad in his hollow voicesticking his head
from behind Peleg'sout 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 Ihe's a member of the first Congregational Church.
Here be it saidthat many tattooed savages sailing in Nantucket
ships at last come to be converted into the churches.

First Congregational Church,cried Bildadwhat! that worships in
Deacon Deuteronomy Coleman's meeting-house?and so sayingtaking
out his spectacleshe rubbed them with his great yellow bandana
handkerchiefand putting them on very carefullycame out of the
wigwamand leaning stiffly over the bulwarkstook a good long look
at Queequeg.

How long hath he been a member?he then saidturning to me; "not
very longI rather guessyoung man."

No,said Pelegand 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 Bildadis 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 isthat Queequeg here is a born member of the First
Congregational Church. He is a deacon himselfQueequeg is."

Young man,said Bildad sternlythou art skylarking with
me--explain thyself, thou young Hittite. What church dost thee mean?
answer me.

Finding myself thus hard pushedI replied. "I meansirthe same
ancient Catholic Church to which you and Iand Captain Peleg there
and Queequeg hereand all of usand 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 Pelegdrawing 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 wordQueequegin his wild sort of wayjumped upon
the bulwarksfrom thence into the bows of one of the whale-boats
hanging to the side; and then bracing his left kneeand poising his
harpooncried out in some such way as this:-

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
ithe darted the iron right over old Bildad's broad brimclean
across the ship's decksand struck the glistening tar spot out of

Now,said Queequegquietly hauling in the linespos-ee him
whale-e eye; why, dad whale dead.

Quick, Bildad,said Peleghis partnerwhoaghast at the close
vicinity of the flying harpoonhad retreated towards the cabin

gangway. "QuickI sayyou Bildadand get the ship's papers. We
must have Hedgehog thereI mean Quohogin one of our boats. Look
yeQuohogwe'll give ye the ninetieth layand that's more than
ever was given a harpooneer yet out of Nantucket."

So down we went into the cabinand 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 signinghe turned to me and saidI 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 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:--

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
darknessI 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 wayswhich I sadly fearI beseech thee
remain not for aye a Belial bondsman. Spurn the idol Belland the
hideous dragon; turn from the wrath to come; mind thine eyeI 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.

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 Swaineonce the bravest
boat-header out of all Nantucket and the Vineyard; he joined the
meetingand never came to good. He got so frightened about his
plaguy soulthat he shrinked and sheered away from whalesfor fear
of after-clapsin case he got stove and went to Davy Jones."

Peleg! Peleg!said Bildadlifting his eyes and handsthou
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 Pelegmarching across the cabinand
thrusting his hands far down into his pockets--"hear himall 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
an everlasting thundering against the side; and every sea breaking
over usfore 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 morebut buttoning up his coatstalked on deck
where we followed him. There he stoodvery quietly overlooking some
sailmakers who were mending a top-sail in the waist. Now and then he
stooped to pick up a patchor save an end of tarred twinewhich
otherwise might have been wasted.


The Prophet.

Shipmates, have ye shipped in that ship?

Queequeg and I had just left the Pequodand were sauntering away from
the waterfor the moment each occupied with his own thoughtswhen
the above words were put to us by a strangerwhopausing 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 faceand left it like the
complicated ribbed bed of a torrentwhen the rushing waters have
been dried up.

Have ye shipped in her?he repeated.

You mean the ship Pequod, I suppose,said Itrying to gain a
little more time for an uninterrupted look at him.

Aye, the Pequod--that ship there,he saiddrawing back his whole
armand then rapidly shoving it straight out from himwith the
fixed bayonet of his pointed finger darted full at the object.

Yes,said Iwe have just signed the articles.

Anything down there about your souls?

About what?

Oh, perhaps you hav'n't got any,he said quickly. "No matter
thoughI 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 strangerplacing a nervous
emphasis upon the word HE.

Queequeg,said Ilet'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 yethave ye?"

Who's Old Thunder?said Iagain 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 strangerwith a solemnly
derisive sort of laugh. "Look ye; when Captain 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.

My friend,said Iwhat 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 Pequodthe beggar-like
stranger stood a momentas if in a troubled reverie; then starting a
littleturned and said:--"Ye've shippedhave ye? Names down on the
papers? Wellwellwhat's signedis signed; and what's to bewill
be; and then againperhaps it won't beafter all. Anyhowit's
all fixed and arranged a'ready; and some sailors or other must go
with himI suppose; as well these as any other menGod pity 'em!
Morning to yeshipmatesmorning; the ineffable heavens bless ye;
I'm sorry I stopped ye."

Look here, friend,said Iif 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. 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 alongQueequeglet's leave this
crazy man. But stoptell me your namewill you?"


Elijah! thought Iand we walked awayboth commentingafter each
other's fashionupon this ragged old sailor; and agreed that he was
nothing but a humbugtrying to be a bugbear. But we had not gone
perhaps above a hundred yardswhen chancing to turn a cornerand
looking back as I did sowho should be seen but Elijah following us
though at a distance. Somehowthe sight of him struck me sothat I
said nothing to Queequeg of his being behindbut passed on with my
comradeanxious 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 usbut with what intent I could not for the life of me
imagine. This circumstancecoupled with his ambiguous
half-hintinghalf-revealingshrouded sort of talknow begat in me
all kinds of vague wonderments and half-apprehensionsand 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 himwhen 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 notand with that intent crossed the way with
Queequegand on that side of it retraced our steps. But Elijah
passed onwithout seeming to notice us. This relieved me; and once
moreand finally as it seemed to meI pronounced him in my hearta


All Astir.

A day or two passedand there was great activity aboard the Pequod.
Not only were the old sails being mendedbut new sails were coming
on boardand bolts of canvasand coils of rigging; in short
everything betokened that the ship's preparations were hurrying to a
close. Captain Peleg seldom or never went ashorebut 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 articlesword was given
at all the inns where the ship's company were stoppingthat their
chests must be on board before nightfor there was no telling how
soon the vessel might be sailing. So Queequeg and I got down our
trapsresolvinghoweverto sleep ashore till the last. But it
seems they always give very long notice in these casesand the ship
did not sail for several days. But no wonder; there was a good deal
to be doneand there is no telling how many things to be thought of
before the Pequod was fully equipped.

Every one knows what a multitude of things--bedssauce-pansknives

and forksshovels and tongsnapkinsnut-crackersand what not
are indispensable to the business of housekeeping. Just so with
whalingwhich necessitates a three-years' housekeeping upon the wide
oceanfar from all grocerscostermongersdoctorsbakersand
bankers. And though this also holds true of merchant vesselsyet
not by any means to the same extent as with whalemen. For besides
the great length of the whaling voyagethe numerous articles
peculiar to the prosecution of the fisheryand the impossibility of
replacing them at the remote harbors usually frequentedit must be
rememberedthat of all shipswhaling vessels are the most exposed
to accidents of all kindsand especially to the destruction and loss
of the very things upon which the success of the voyage most depends.
Hencethe spare boatsspare sparsand spare lines and harpoons
and spare everythingsalmostbut a spare Captain and duplicate

At the period of our arrival at the Islandthe heaviest storage of
the Pequod had been almost completed; comprising her beefbread
waterfueland iron hoops and staves. Butas before hintedfor
some time there was a continual fetching and carrying on board of
divers odds and ends of thingsboth large and small.

Chief among those who did this fetching and carrying was Captain
Bildad's sistera lean old lady of a most determined and
indefatigable spiritbut withal very kindheartedwho seemed
resolved thatif SHE could help itnothing should be found wanting
in the Pequodafter 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 deskwhere
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
namewhich was Charity--Aunt Charityas everybody called her. And
like a sister of charity did this charitable Aunt Charity bustle
about hither and thitherready to turn her hand and heart to
anything that promised to yield safetycomfortand consolation to
all on board a ship in which her beloved brother Bildad was
concernedand 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 boardas she did the last daywith a long oil-ladle in one hand
and a still longer whaling lance in the other. Nor was Bildad himself
nor Captain Peleg at all backward. As for Bildadhe carried about
with him a long list of the articles neededand at every fresh
arrivaldown 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 hatchwaysroaring up to the riggers at
the mast-headand then concluded by roaring back into his wigwam.

During these days of preparationQueequeg and I often visited the
craftand as often I asked about Captain Ahaband how he wasand
when he was going to come on board his ship. To these questions they
would answerthat he was getting better and betterand was expected
aboard every day; meantimethe two captainsPeleg and Bildadcould
attend to everything necessary to fit the vessel for the voyage. If
I had been downright honest with myselfI would have seen very
plainly in my heart that I did but half fancy being committed this
way to so long a voyagewithout once laying my eyes on the man who
was to be the absolute dictator of itso soon as the ship sailed out
upon the open sea. But when a man suspects any wrongit sometimes
happens that if he be already involved in the matterhe insensibly
strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself. And much this
way it was with me. I said nothingand tried to think nothing.

At last it was given out that some time next day the ship would
certainly sail. So next morningQueequeg and I took a very early


Going Aboard.

It was nearly six o'clockbut only grey imperfect misty dawnwhen
we drew nigh the wharf.

There are some sailors running ahead there, if I see right,said I
to Queequegit can't be shadows; she's off by sunrise, I guess;
come on!

Avast!cried a voicewhose owner at the same time coming close
behind uslaid a hand upon both our shouldersand then insinuating
himself between usstood stooping forward a littlein the uncertain
twilightstrangely peering from Queequeg to me. It was Elijah.

Going aboard?

Hands off, will you,said I.

Lookee here,said Queequegshaking himselfgo 'way!

Ain't going aboard, then?

Yes, we are,said Ibut what business is that of yours? Do you
know, Mr. Elijah, that I consider you a little impertinent?

No, no, no; I wasn't aware of that,said Elijahslowly and
wonderingly looking from me to Queequegwith the most unaccountable

Elijah,said Iyou 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 Icome on.

Holloa!cried stationary Elijahhailing us when we had removed a
few paces.

Never mind him,said IQueequeg, come on.

But he stole up to us againand suddenly clapping his hand on my
shouldersaid--"Did ye see anything looking like men going towards
that ship a while ago?"

Struck by this plain matter-of-fact questionI answeredsaying
Yes, I thought I did see four or five men; but it was too dim to be

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 againsaidSee if you can find 'em now, will

Find who?"

Morning to ye! morning to ye!he rejoinedagain moving off. "Oh!
I was going to warn ye against--but never mindnever mind--it's all
oneall in the family too;--sharp frost this morningain't it?
Good-bye to ye. Shan't see ye again very soonI guess; unless it's
before the Grand Jury." And with these cracked words he finally
departedleaving mefor the momentin no small wonderment at his
frantic impudence.

At laststepping on board the Pequodwe found everything in
profound quietnot a soul moving. The cabin entrance was locked
within; the hatches were all onand lumbered with coils of rigging.
Going forward to the forecastlewe found the slide of the scuttle
open. Seeing a lightwe went downand found only an old rigger
therewrapped in a tattered pea-jacket. He was thrown at whole
length upon two chestshis 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
Ilooking dubiously at the sleeper. But it seemed thatwhen on the
wharfQueequeg had not at all noticed what I now alluded to; hence I
would have thought myself to have been optically deceived in that
matterwere it not for Elijah's otherwise inexplicable question.
But I beat the thing down; and again marking the sleeperjocularly
hinted to Queequeg that perhaps we had best sit up with the body;
telling him to establish himself accordingly. He put his hand upon
the sleeper's rearas though feeling if it was soft enough; and
thenwithout more adosat quietly down there.

Gracious! Queequeg, don't sit there,said I.

Oh! perry dood seat,said Queequegmy country way; won't hurt
him face.

Face!said Icall 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

Queequeg removed himself to just beyond the head of the sleeperand
lighted his tomahawk pipe. I sat at the feet. We kept the pipe
passing over the sleeperfrom one to the other. Meanwhileupon
questioning him in his broken fashionQueequeg gave me to understand
thatin his landowing to the absence of settees and sofas of all
sortsthe kingchiefsand great people generallywere in the
custom of fattening some of the lower orders for ottomans; and to
furnish a house comfortably in that respectyou had only to buy up
eight or ten lazy fellowsand lay them round in the piers and
alcoves. Besidesit was very convenient on an excursion; much
better than those garden-chairs which are convertible into
walking-sticks; upon occasiona chief calling his attendantand
desiring him to make a settee of himself under a spreading tree
perhaps in some damp marshy place.

While narrating these thingsevery time Queequeg received the
tomahawk from mehe 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 lastwho be ye smokers?

Shipped men,answered Iwhen 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?

I was going to ask him some further questions concerning Ahabwhen
we heard a noise on deck.

Holloa! Starbuck's astir,said the rigger. "He's a lively chief
matethat; good manand a pious; but all alive nowI must turn
to." And so saying he went on deckand 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.


Merry Christmas.

At lengthtowards noonupon the final dismissal of the ship's
riggersand after the Pequod had been hauled out from the wharfand
after the ever-thoughtful Charity had come off in a whale-boatwith
her last gift--a night-cap for Stubbthe second mateher
brother-in-lawand a spare Bible for the steward--after all this
the two CaptainsPeleg and Bildadissued from the cabinand
turning to the chief matePeleg 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
Bildadbut 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-deckjust as if they were to be joint-commanders at sea
as well as to all appearances in port. Andas for Captain Ahabno
sign of him was yet to be seen; onlythey said he was in the cabin.
But thenthe idea wasthat his presence was by no means necessary
in getting the ship under weighand steering her well out to sea.
Indeedas that was not at all his proper businessbut 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
anchorbut remain over the cabin tablehaving a farewell
merry-making with their shore friendsbefore they quit the ship for
good with the pilot.

But there was not much chance to think over the matterfor Captain
Peleg was now all alive. He seemed to do most of the talking and
commandingand not Bildad.

Aft here, ye sons of bachelors,he criedas the sailors lingered
at the main-mast. "Mr. Starbuckdrive'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 Pequodfor thirty yearsthe order to strike the tent was well
known to be the next thing to heaving up the anchor.

Man the capstan! Blood and thunder!--jump!--was the next command
and the crew sprang for the handspikes.

Now in getting under weighthe station generally occupied by the
pilot is the forward part of the ship. And here Bildadwhowith
Pelegbe it knownin addition to his other officerswas 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 infor he never piloted any other
craft--BildadI saymight now be seen actively engaged in looking
over the bows for the approaching anchorand at intervals singing
what seemed a dismal stave of psalmodyto cheer the hands at the
windlasswho roared forth some sort of a chorus about the girls in
Booble Alleywith hearty good will. Neverthelessnot three days
previousBildad had told them that no profane songs would be allowed
on board the Pequodparticularly in getting under weigh; and
Charityhis sisterhad placed a small choice copy of Watts in each
seaman's berth.

Meantimeoverseeing the other part of the shipCaptain 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 on my handspikeand told Queequeg to do the samethinking
of the perils we both ranin starting on the voyage with such a
devil for a pilot. I was comforting myselfhoweverwith the
thought that in pious Bildad might be found some salvationspite of
his seven hundred and seventy-seventh lay; when I felt a sudden sharp
poke in my rearand turning roundwas 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
sayinghe moved along the windlasshere and there using his leg
very freelywhile imperturbable Bildad kept leading off with his
psalmody. Thinks ICaptain Peleg must have been drinking something

At last the anchor was upthe sails were setand off we glided. It
was a shortcold Christmas; and as the short northern day merged
into nightwe found ourselves almost broad upon the wintry ocean
whose freezing spray cased us in iceas in polished armor. The long

rows of teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight; and like
the white ivory tusks of some huge elephantvast curving icicles
depended from the bows.

Lank Bildadas pilotheaded the first watchand ever and anonas
the old craft deep dived into the green seasand sent the shivering
frost all over herand the winds howledand the cordage ranghis
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 Atlanticspite of my wet feet and wetter jacket
there was yetit then seemed to memany a pleasant haven in store;
and meads and glades so eternally vernalthat the grass shot up by
the springuntroddenunwiltedremains at midsummer.

At last we gained such an offingthat the two pilots were needed no
longer. The stout sail-boat that had accompanied us began ranging

It was curious and not unpleasinghow Peleg and Bildad were affected
at this junctureespecially Captain Bildad. For loath to depart
yet; very loath to leavefor gooda 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 shipin which
an old shipmate sailed as captain; a man almost as old as heonce
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 deckand looked to windward; looked towards the
wide and endless watersonly bounded by the far-off unseen Eastern
Continents; looked towards the land; looked aloft; looked right and
left; looked everywhere and nowhere; and at lastmechanically
coiling a rope upon its pinconvulsively grasped stout Peleg by the
handand holding up a lanternfor a moment stood gazing heroically
in his faceas much as to sayNevertheless, friend Peleg, I can
stand it; yes, I can.

As for Peleg himselfhe took it more like a philosopher; but for all
his philosophythere was a tear twinkling in his eyewhen the
lantern came too near. And hetoodid not a little run from cabin
to deck--now a word belowand now a word with Starbuckthe chief

Butat lasthe turned to his comradewith a final sort of look
about him--"Captain Bildad--comeold shipmatewe must go. Back
the main-yard there! Boat ahoy! Stand by to come close alongside
now! Carefulcareful!--comeBildadboy--say your last. Luck to
yeStarbuck--luck to yeMr. Stubb--luck to yeMr. 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
Bildadalmost incoherently. "I hope ye'll have fine weather nowso
that Captain Ahab may soon be moving among ye--a pleasant sun is all
he needsand ye'll have plenty of them in the tropic voyage ye go.
Be careful in the huntye 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 prayerseither. 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 eitherthat's rejecting Heaven's
good gifts. Have an eye to the molasses tierceMr. Stubb; it was a
little leakyI thought. If ye touch at the islandsMr. Flask
beware of fornication. Good-byegood-bye! Don't keep that cheese
too long down in the holdMr. Starbuck; it'll spoil. Be careful
with the butter--twenty cents the pound it wasand mind yeif--"

Come, come, Captain Bildad; stop palavering,--away!and with that
Peleg hurried him over the sideand both dropt into the boat.

Ship and boat diverged; the colddamp night breeze blew between; a
screaming gull flew overhead; the two hulls wildly rolled; we gave
three heavy-hearted cheersand blindly plunged like fate into the
lone Atlantic.


The Lee Shore.

Some chapters backone Bulkington was spoken ofa tallnewlanded
marinerencountered in New Bedford at the inn.

When on that shivering winter's nightthe Pequod thrust her
vindictive bows into the cold malicious waveswho should I see
standing at her helm but Bulkington! I looked with sympathetic awe
and fearfulness upon the manwho in mid-winter just landed from a
four years' dangerous voyagecould 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 shipthat miserably drives along the leeward land. The
port would fain give succor; the port is pitiful; in the port is
safetycomforthearthstonesupperwarm blanketsfriendsall
that's kind to our mortalities. But in that galethe portthe
landis that ship's direst jeopardy; she must fly all hospitality;
one touch of landthough it but graze the keelwould make her
shudder through and through. With all her might she crowds all sail
off shore; in so doingfights '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 nowBulkington? Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally
intolerable truth; that all deepearnest 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 treacherousslavish shore?

But as in landlessness alone resides highest truthshoreless
indefinite as God--sobetter is it to perish in that howling
infinitethan be ingloriously dashed upon the leeeven if that were
safety! For worm-likethenoh! who would craven crawl to land!
Terrors of the terrible! is all this agony so vain? Take hearttake
heartO Bulkington! Bear thee grimlydemigod! Up from the spray
of thy ocean-perishing--straight upleaps thy apotheosis!


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; thereforeI am all anxiety to convince yeye landsmenof
the injustice hereby done to us hunters of whales.

In the first placeit may be deemed almost superfluous to establish
the factthat among people at largethe 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
societyit would but slightly advance the general opinion of his
meritswere he presented to the company as a harpooneersay; and if
in emulation of the naval officers he should append the initials

S.W.F. (Sperm Whale Fishery) to his visiting cardsuch a procedure
would be deemed pre-eminently presuming and ridiculous.
Doubtless one leading reason why the world declines honouring us
whalemenis this: they think thatat bestour vocation amounts to
a butchering sort of business; and that when actively engaged
thereinwe are surrounded by all manner of defilements. Butchers we
arethat is true. But butchersalsoand 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 businessye shall soon be initiated into
certain facts hitherto pretty generally unknownand whichupon the
wholewill 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 batterywould quickly
recoil at the apparition of the sperm whale's vast tailfanning into
eddies the air over his head. For what are the comprehensible
terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of

Butthough the world scouts at us whale huntersyet does it
unwittingly pay us the profoundest homage; yeaan all-abounding
adoration! for almost all the taperslampsand candles that burn
round the globeburnas before so many shrinesto our glory!

But look at this matter in other lights; weigh it in all sorts of
scales; see what we whalemen areand have been.

Why did the Dutch in De Witt's time have admirals of their whaling
fleets? Why did Louis XVI. of Franceat his own personal expense
fit out whaling ships from Dunkirkand 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 L1000000? And lastlyhow 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 4000000 of dollars; the
ships worthat the time of sailing$20000000! and every year
importing into our harbors a well reaped harvest of $7000000. How

comes all thisif there be not something puissant in whaling?

But this is not the half; look again.

I freely assertthat the cosmopolite philosopher cannotfor his
lifepoint out one single peaceful influencewhich within the last
sixty years has operated more potentially upon the whole broad world
taken in one aggregatethan the high and mighty business of whaling.
One way and anotherit has begotten events so remarkable in
themselvesand so continuously momentous in their sequential issues
that whaling may well be regarded as that Egyptian motherwho 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 chartwhere no Cook or
Vancouver had ever sailed. If American and European men-of-war
now peacefully ride in once savage harborslet them fire salutes to
the honour and glory of the whale-shipwhich originally showed them
the wayand first interpreted between them and the savages. They
may celebrate as they will the heroes of Exploring Expeditionsyour
Cooksyour Krusensterns; but I say that scores of anonymous
Captains have sailed out of Nantucketthat were as greatand
greater than your Cook and your Krusenstern. For in their
succourless empty-handednesstheyin the heathenish sharked waters
and by the beaches of unrecordedjavelin islandsbattled with
virgin wonders and terrors that Cook with all his marines and
muskets would not willingly have dared. All that is made such a
flourish of in the old South Sea Voyagesthose things were but the
life-time commonplaces of our heroic Nantucketers. Often
adventures which Vancouver dedicates three chapters tothese men
accounted unworthy of being set down in the ship's common log. Ah
the world! Ohthe world!

Until the whale fishery rounded Cape Hornno commerce but colonial
scarcely any intercourse but colonialwas 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 crowntouching those colonies; andif space
permittedit might be distinctly shown how from those whalemen at
last eventuated the liberation of PeruChiliand Bolivia from the
yoke of Old Spainand the establishment of the eternal democracy in
those parts.

That great America on the other side of the sphereAustraliawas
given to the enlightened world by the whaleman. After its first
blunder-born discovery by a Dutchmanall 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.
Moreoverin the infancy of the first Australian settlementthe
emigrants were several times saved from 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 truthand do
commercial homage to the whale-shipthat cleared the way for the
missionary and the merchantand in many cases carried the primitive
missionaries to their first destinations. If that double-bolted
landJapanis ever to become hospitableit is the whale-ship alone
to whom the credit will be due; for already she is on the threshold.

But ifin the face of all thisyou still declare that whaling has
no aesthetically noble associations connected with itthen am I
ready to shiver fifty lances with you thereand unhorse you with a
split helmet every time.

The whale has no famous authorand whaling no famous chronicleryou
will say.

wrote the first account of our Leviathan? Who but mighty Job! And
who composed the first narrative of a whaling-voyage? Whobut no
less a prince than Alfred the Greatwhowith his own royal pen
took down the words from Otherthe Norwegian whale-hunter of those
times! And who pronounced our glowing eulogy in Parliament? Who
but Edmund Burke!

True enoughbut 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;
afterwardsby marriageMary Folgerone of the old settlers of
Nantucketand 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

WHALING NOT RESPECTABLE? Whaling is imperial! By old English
statutory lawthe whale is declared "a royal fish."*

Ohthat's only nominal! The whale himself has never figured in any
grand imposing way.

mighty triumphs given to a Roman general upon his entering the
world's capitalthe bones of a whalebrought all the way from the
Syrian coastwere the most conspicuous object in the cymballed

*See subsequent chapters for something more on this head.

Grant itsince you cite it; butsay what you willthere 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 Czarand take it off to Queequeg!
No more! I know a man thatin his lifetimehas 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.

Andas for meifby any possibilitythere 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 thatupon
the wholea man might rather have done than to have left undone; if
at my deathmy executorsor more properly my creditorsfind any
precious MSS. in my deskthen here I prospectively ascribe all the
honour and the glory to whaling; for a whale-ship was my Yale College
and my Harvard.



In behalf of the dignity of whalingI would fain advance naught but
substantiated facts. But after embattling his factsan advocate who
should wholly suppress a not unreasonable surmisewhich might tell
eloquently upon his cause--such an advocatewould he not be

It is well known that at the coronation of kings and queenseven
modern onesa certain curious process of seasoning them for their
functions is gone through. There is a saltcellar of stateso
calledand there may be a castor of state. How they use the salt
precisely--who knows? Certain I amhoweverthat a king's head is
solemnly oiled at his coronationeven as a head of salad. Can it
bethoughthat they anoint it with a view of making its interior
run wellas they anoint machinery? Much might be ruminated here
concerning the essential dignity of this regal processbecause in
common life we esteem but meanly and contemptibly a fellow who
anoints his hairand palpably smells of that anointing. In trutha
mature man who uses hair-oilunless medicinallythat man has
probably got a quoggy spot in him somewhere. As a general rulehe
can't amount to much in his totality.

But the only thing to be considered hereis this--what kind of oil
is used at coronations? Certainly it cannot be olive oilnor
macassar oilnor castor oilnor bear's oilnor train oilnor
cod-liver oil. What then can it possibly bebut sperm oil in
its unmanufacturedunpolluted statethe sweetest of all oils?

Think of thatye loyal Britons! we whalemen supply your kings and
queens with coronation stuff!


Knights and Squires.

The chief mate of the Pequod was Starbucka native of Nantucketand
a Quaker by descent. He was a longearnest manand though born on
an icy coastseemed well adapted to endure hot latitudeshis flesh
being hard as twice-baked biscuit. Transported to the Indieshis
live blood would not spoil like bottled ale. He must have been born
in some time of general drought and famineor 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 thishis thinnessso to speakseemed no more
the token of wasting anxieties and caresthan 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 strengthlike a revivified
Egyptianthis Starbuck seemed prepared to endure for long ages to
comeand to endure alwaysas now; for be it Polar snow or torrid
sunlike a patent chronometerhis interior vitality was warranted
to do well in all climates. Looking into his eyesyou seemed to
see there the yet lingering images of those thousand-fold perils he
had calmly confronted through life. A staidsteadfast manwhose
life for the most part was a telling pantomime of actionand not a
tame chapter of sounds. Yetfor all his hardy sobriety and
fortitudethere were certain qualities in him which at times
affectedand in some cases seemed well nigh to overbalance all the

rest. Uncommonly conscientious for a seamanand endued with a deep
natural reverencethe wild watery loneliness of his life did
therefore strongly incline him to superstition; but to that sort of
superstitionwhich in some organizations seems rather to spring
somehowfrom intelligence than from ignorance. Outward portents and
inward presentiments were his. And if at times these things bent the
welded iron of his soulmuch more did his far-away domestic memories
of his young Cape wife and childtend to bend him still more from
the original ruggedness of his natureand open him still further to
those latent influences whichin some honest-hearted menrestrain
the gush of dare-devil daringso 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 thishe
seemed to meannot only that the most reliable and useful courage
was that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered
perilbut that an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous
comrade than a coward.

Aye, aye,said Stubbthe second mateStarbuck, 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 Stubbor almost any other whale hunter.

Starbuck was no crusader after perils; in him courage was not a
sentiment; but a thing simply useful to himand always at hand upon
all mortally practical occasions. Besideshe thoughtperhapsthat
in this business of whalingcourage was one of the great staple
outfits of the shiplike her beef and her breadand 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. Forthought StarbuckI am here in this
critical ocean to kill whales for my livingand 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? Wherein the bottomless
deepscould he find the torn limbs of his brother?

With memories like these in himandmoreovergiven to a certain
superstitiousnessas has been said; the courage of this Starbuck
which couldneverthelessstill flourishmust indeed have been
extreme. But it was not in reasonable nature that a man so
organizedand 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 himwhichunder suitable circumstances
would break out from its confinementand burn all his courage up.
And brave as he might beit was that sort of bravery chiefly
visible in some intrepid menwhichwhile generally abiding firm in
the conflict with seasor windsor whalesor any of the ordinary
irrational horrors of the worldyet cannot withstand those more
terrificbecause more spiritual terrorswhich sometimes menace you
from the concentrating brow of an enraged and mighty man.

But were the coming narrative to reveal in any instancethe complete
abasement of poor Starbuck's fortitudescarce might I have the heart
to write it; for it is a thing most sorrowfulnay shockingto
expose the fall of valour in the soul. Men may seem detestable as
joint stock-companies and nations; knavesfoolsand murderers there
may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but manin the ideal
is so noble and so sparklingsuch a grand and glowing creaturethat
over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to
throw their costliest robes. That immaculate manliness we feel
within ourselvesso far within usthat 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 itselfat
such a shameful sightcompletely stifle her upbraidings against the

permitting stars. But this august dignity I treat ofis not the
dignity of kings and robesbut 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 whichon all
handsradiates without end from God; Himself! The great God
absolute! The centre and circumference of all democracy! His
omnipresenceour divine equality!

Ifthento meanest marinersand renegades and castawaysI shall
hereafter ascribe high qualitiesthough dark; weave round them
tragic graces; if even the most mournfulperchance the most abased
among them allshall 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 itthou Just Spirit of Equality
which hast spread one royal mantle of humanity over all my kind!
Bear me out in itthou great democratic God! who didst not refuse to
the swart convictBunyanthe palepoetic pearl; Thou who didst
clothe with doubly hammered leaves of finest goldthe 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 whoin all Thy mighty
earthly marchingsever cullest Thy selectest champions from the
kingly commons; bear me out in itO God!


Knights and Squires.

Stubb was the second mate. He was a native of Cape Cod; and hence
according to local usagewas 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 chasetoiling awaycalm and collected as a journeyman
joiner engaged for the year. Good-humoredeasyand carelesshe
presided over his whale-boat as if the most deadly encounter were but
a dinnerand his crew all invited guests. He was as particular
about the comfortable arrangement of his part of the boatas an
old stage-driver is about the snugness of his box. When close to the
whalein the very death-lock of the fighthe handled his unpitying
lance coolly and off-handedlyas a whistling tinker his hammer. He
would hum over his old rigadig tunes while flank and flank with the
most exasperated monster. Long usage hadfor this Stubbconverted
the jaws of death into an easy chair. What he thought of death
itselfthere is no telling. Whether he ever thought of it at all
might be a question; butif he ever did chance to cast his mind that
way after a comfortable dinnerno doubtlike a good sailorhe took
it to be a sort of call of the watch to tumble aloftand bestir
themselves thereabout something which he would find out when he
obeyed the orderand not sooner.

Whatperhapswith other thingsmade Stubb such an easy-going
unfearing manso cheerily trudging off with the burden of life in a
world full of grave pedlarsall 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. Forlike his nosehis
shortblack 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 loadedstuck in a rackwithin easy reach of his hand;
andwhenever he turned inhe 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. Forwhen Stubb dressedinstead
of first putting his legs into his trowsershe put his pipe into his

I say this continual smoking must have been one causeat leastof
his peculiar disposition; for every one knows that this earthly air
whether ashore or afloatis terribly infected with the nameless
miseries of the numberless mortals who have died exhaling it; and as
in time of the cholerasome people go about with a camphorated
handkerchief to their mouths; solikewiseagainst all mortal
tribulationsStubb's tobacco smoke might have operated as a sort of
disinfecting agent.

The third mate was Flaska native of Tisburyin Martha's Vineyard.
A shortstoutruddy young fellowvery pugnacious concerning
whaleswho 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 himto 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 opinionthe wondrous whale was
but a species of magnified mouseor at least water-ratrequiring
only a little circumvention and some small application of time and
trouble in order to kill and boil. This ignorantunconscious
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 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; becausein formhe could be
well likened to the shortsquare timber known by that name in Arctic
whalers; and which by the means of many radiating side timbers
inserted into itserves to brace the ship against the icy
concussions of those battering seas.

Now these three mates--StarbuckStubband Flaskwere 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
whalesthese three headsmen were as captains of companies. Or
being armed with their long keen whaling spearsthey were as a
picked trio of lancers; even as the harpooneers were flingers of

And since in this famous fisheryeach mate or headsmanlike a
Gothic Knight of oldis always accompanied by his boat-steerer or
harpooneerwho in certain conjunctures provides him with a fresh
lancewhen the former one has been badly twistedor elbowed in the
assault; and moreoveras there generally subsists between the twoa
close intimacy and friendliness; it is therefore but meetthat in
this place we set down who the Pequod's harpooneers wereand to what
headsman each of them belonged.

First of all was Queequegwhom Starbuckthe chief matehad
selected for his squire. But Queequeg is already known.

Next was Tashtegoan unmixed Indian from Gay Headthe most westerly
promontory of Martha's Vineyardwhere there still exists the last
remnant of a village of red menwhich has long supplied the
neighboring island of Nantucket with many of her most daring
harpooneers. In the fisherythey usually go by the generic name of

Gay-Headers. Tashtego's longleansable hairhis high cheek
bonesand black rounding eyes--for an IndianOriental in their
largenessbut Antarctic in their glittering expression--all this
sufficiently proclaimed him an inheritor of the unvitiated blood of
those proud warrior hunterswhoin quest of the great New England
moosehad scouredbow in handthe aboriginal forests of the main.
But no longer snuffing in the trail of the wild beasts of the
woodlandTashtego 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 the tawny brawn of his lithe snaky
limbsyou would almost have credited the superstitions of some of
the earlier Puritansand 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 Daggooa giganticcoal-black
negro-savagewith a lion-like tread--an Ahasuerus to behold.
Suspended from his ears were two golden hoopsso large that the
sailors called them ring-boltsand would talk of securing the
top-sail halyards to them. In his youth Daggoo had voluntarily
shipped on board of a whalerlying in a lonely bay on his native
coast. And never having been anywhere in the world but in Africa
Nantucketand 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 virtuesand erect as a
giraffemoved 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 tellthis imperial negroAhasuerus
Daggoowas the Squire of little Flaskwho looked like a chess-man
beside him. As for the residue of the Pequod's companybe it said
that at the present day not one in two of the many thousand men
before the mast employed in the American whale fisheryare Americans
bornthough 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 naviesand the engineering forces employed in
the construction of the American Canals and Railroads. The sameI
saybecause in all these cases the native American liberally
provides the brainsthe rest of the world as generously supplying
the muscles. No small number of these whaling seamen belong to the
Azoreswhere the outward bound Nantucket whalers frequently touch to
augment their crews from the hardy peasants of those rocky shores.
In like mannerthe Greenland whalers sailing out of Hull or London
put in at the Shetland Islandsto receive the full complement of
their crew. Upon the passage homewardsthey drop them there again.
How it isthere is no tellingbut Islanders seem to make the best
whalemen. They were nearly all Islanders in the PequodISOLATOES
tooI call suchnot acknowledging the common continent of menbut
each ISOLATO living on a separate continent of his own. Yet now
federated along one keelwhat a set these Isolatoes were! An
Anacharsis Clootz deputation from all the isles of the seaand all
the ends of the earthaccompanying 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--ohno! he went
before. Poor Alabama boy! On the grim Pequod's forecastleye shall
ere long see himbeating his tambourine; prelusive of the eternal
timewhen sent forto the great quarter-deck on highhe was bid
strike in with angelsand beat his tambourine in glory; called a
coward herehailed a hero there!



For several days after leaving Nantucketnothing above hatches was
seen of Captain Ahab. The mates regularly relieved each other at the
watchesand for aught that could be seen to the contrarythey
seemed to be the only commanders of the ship; only they sometimes
issued from the cabin with orders so sudden and peremptorythat
after all it was plain they but commanded vicariously. Yestheir
supreme lord and dictator was therethough hitherto unseen by any
eyes not permitted to penetrate into the now sacred retreat of the

Every time I ascended to the deck from my watches belowI instantly
gazed aft to mark if any strange face were visible; for my first
vague disquietude touching the unknown captainnow in the seclusion
of the seabecame almost a perturbation. This was strangely
heightened at times by the ragged Elijah's diabolical incoherences
uninvitedly recurring to mewith a subtle energy I could not have
before conceived of. But poorly could I withstand themmuch as in
other moods I was almost ready to smile at the solemn whimsicalities
of that outlandish prophet of the wharves. But whatever it was of
apprehensiveness or uneasiness--to call it so--which I feltyet
whenever I came to look about me in the shipit seemed against all
warrantry to cherish such emotions. For though the harpooneerswith
the great body of the crewwere a far more barbaricheathenishand
motley set than any of the tame merchant-ship companies which my
previous experiences had made me acquainted withstill 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 shipthe mateswhich was most forcibly
calculated to allay these colourless misgivingsand induce confidence
and cheerfulness in every presentment of the voyage. Three better
more likely sea-officers and meneach in his own different way
could not readily be foundand they were every one of them
Americans; a Nantucketera Vineyardera Cape man. Nowit being
Christmas when the ship shot from out her harborfor a space we had
biting Polar weatherthough all the time running away from it to the
southward; and by every degree and minute of latitude which we
sailedgradually leaving that merciless winterand all its
intolerable weather behind us. It was one of those less lowering
but still grey and gloomy enough mornings of the transitionwhen
with a fair wind the ship was rushing through the water with a
vindictive sort of leaping and melancholy rapiditythat as I mounted
to the deck at the call of the forenoon watchso soon as I levelled
my glance towards the taffrailforeboding shivers ran over me.
Reality outran apprehension; Captain Ahab stood upon his

There seemed no sign of common bodily illness about himnor 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 themor taking away one particle from their compacted aged
robustness. His whole highbroad formseemed made of solid bronze
and shaped in an unalterable mouldlike Cellini's cast Perseus.
Threading its way out from among his grey hairsand continuing right
down one side of his tawny scorched face and necktill it
disappeared in his clothingyou saw a slender rod-like marklividly
whitish. It resembled that perpendicular seam sometimes made in the
straightlofty trunk of a great treewhen the upper lightning
tearingly darts down itand without wrenching a single twigpeels
and grooves out the bark from top to bottomere running off into the

soilleaving the tree still greenly alivebut branded. Whether
that mark was born with himor whether it was the scar left by some
desperate woundno 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 senioran old Gay-Head
Indian among the crewsuperstitiously asserted that not till he was
full forty years old did Ahab become that way brandedand then it
came upon himnot in the fury of any mortal fraybut in an
elemental strife at sea. Yetthis wild hint seemed inferentially
negativedby what a grey Manxman insinuatedan old sepulchral man
whohaving never before sailed out of Nantuckethad never ere this
laid eye upon wild Ahab. Neverthelessthe old sea-traditionsthe
immemorial credulitiespopularly 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 passso he
muttered--thenwhoever 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 meand the
livid brand which streaked itthat for the first few moments I
hardly noted that not a little of this 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. "Ayehe was
dismasted off Japan said the old Gay-Head Indian once; but like
his dismasted crafthe 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 deckand pretty close to the mizzen shrouds
there was an auger holebored about half an inch or sointo the
plank. His bone leg steadied in that hole; one arm elevatedand
holding by a shroud; Captain Ahab stood erectlooking straight out
beyond the ship's ever-pitching prow. There was an infinity of
firmest fortitudea determinateunsurrenderable wilfulnessin the
fixed and fearlessforward dedication of that glance. Not a word he
spoke; nor did his officers say aught to him; though by all their
minutest gestures and expressionsthey plainly showed the uneasyif
not painfulconsciousness of being under a troubled master-eye. And
not only thatbut moody stricken Ahab stood before them with a
crucifixion in his face; in all the nameless regal overbearing
dignity of some mighty woe.

Ere longfrom his first visit in the airhe withdrew into his
cabin. But after that morninghe was every day visible to the crew;
either standing in his pivot-holeor seated upon an ivory stool he
had; or heavily walking the deck. As the sky grew less gloomy;
indeedbegan to grow a little genialhe became still less and less
a recluse; as ifwhen the ship had sailed from homenothing but the
dead wintry bleakness of the sea had then kept him so secluded. And
by and byit came to passthat he was almost continually in the
air; butas yetfor all that he saidor perceptibly didon the at
last sunny deckhe 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 toso that there was little or nothingout of
himselfto employ or excite Ahabnow; and thus chase awayfor that
one intervalthe clouds that layer upon layer were piled upon his
browas ever all clouds choose the loftiest peaks to pile themselves

Neverthelessere longthe warmwarbling persuasiveness of the
pleasantholiday weather we came toseemed gradually to charm him

from his mood. Foras when the red-cheekeddancing girlsApril
and Maytrip home to the wintrymisanthropic woods; even the
barestruggedestmost thunder-cloven old oak will at least send
forth some few green sproutsto welcome such glad-hearted visitants;
so Ahab didin the enda little respond to the playful allurings of
that girlish air. More than once did he put forth the faint blossom
of a lookwhichin any other manwould have soon flowered out in a


Enter Ahab; to HimStubb.

Some days elapsedand ice and icebergs all asternthe Pequod now
went rolling through the bright Quito springwhichat seaalmost
perpetually reigns on the threshold of the eternal August of the
Tropic. The warmly coolclearringingperfumedoverflowing
redundant dayswere as crystal goblets of Persian sherbetheaped
up--flaked upwith rose-water snow. The starred and stately nights
seemed haughty dames in jewelled velvetsnursing at home in lonely
pridethe memory of their absent conquering Earlsthe 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 soulespecially when
the still mild hours of eve came on; thenmemory shot her crystals
as the clear ice most forms of noiseless twilights. And all these
subtle agenciesmore and more they wrought on Ahab's texture.

Old age is always wakeful; as ifthe longer linked with lifethe
less man has to do with aught that looks like death. Among
sea-commandersthe old greybeards will oftenest leave their berths
to visit the night-cloaked deck. It was so with Ahab; only that now
of latehe seemed so much to live in the open airthat truly
speakinghis visits were more to the cabinthan 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 scuttleto go to my grave-dug berth."

Soalmost every twenty-four hourswhen the watches of the night
were setand the band on deck sentinelled the slumbers of the band
below; and when if a rope was to be hauled upon the forecastlethe
sailors flung it not rudely downas by daybut with some
cautiousness dropt it to its place for fear of disturbing their
slumbering shipmates; when this sort of steady quietude would begin
to prevailhabituallythe silent steersman would watch the
cabin-scuttle; and ere long the old man would emergegripping at the
iron banisterto help his crippled way. Some considering touch of
humanity was in him; for at times like thesehe usually abstained
from patrolling the quarter-deck; because to his wearied mates
seeking repose within six inches of his ivory heelsuch would have
been the reverberating crack and din of that bony stepthat their
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
heavylumber-like pace he was measuring the ship from taffrail to
mainmastStubbthe old second matecame up from belowwith a
certain unassureddeprecating humorousnesshinted that if Captain
Ahab was pleased to walk the planksthenno one could say nay; but
there might be some way of muffling the noise; hinting something
indistinctly and hesitatingly about a globe of towand the insertion
into itof the ivory heel. Ah! Stubbthou didst not know Ahab


Am I a cannon-ball, Stubb,said Ahabthat 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 manStubb 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.

Nosir; not yet said Stubb, emboldened, I will not tamely be
called a dogsir."

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 thisAhab advanced upon him with such overbearing terrors
in his aspectthat Stubb involuntarily retreated.

I was never served so before without giving a hard blow for it,
muttered Stubbas 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 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. 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.


The Pipe.

When Stubb had departedAhab stood for a while leaning over the
bulwarks; and thenas had been usual with him of latecalling a
sailor of the watchhe sent him below for his ivory stooland also
his pipe. Lighting the pipe at the binnacle lamp and planting the
stool on the weather side of the deckhe sat and smoked.

In old Norse timesthe thrones of the sea-loving Danish kings were
fabricatedsaith traditionof the tusks of the narwhale. How could
one look at Ahab thenseated on that tripod of boneswithout
bethinking him of the royalty it symbolized? For a Khan of the
plankand a king of the seaand a great lord of Leviathans was

Some moments passedduring which the thick vapour came from his mouth
in quick and constant puffswhich blew back again into his face.
How now,he soliloquized at lastwithdrawing the tubethis
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, 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 hatAhab lurchingly paced the planks.


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 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 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.'

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

If ye see a white one, split your lungs for him!

What do you think of that nowFlask? ain't there a small drop of
something queer about thateh? A white whale--did ye mark that
man? Look ye--there's something special in the wind. Stand by for
itFlask. Ahab has that that's bloody on his mind. Butmum; he
comes this way."



Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be
lost in its unshoredharbourless 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 chaosnothing less is here
essayed. Listen to what the best and latest authorities have laid

No branch of Zoology is so much involved as that which is entitled
Cetology,says Captain ScoresbyA.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 among the historians of this
animal(sperm whale)says Surgeon BealeA.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 whalethe great Cuvierand John Hunterand
Lessonthose lights of zoology and anatomy. Neverthelessthough of
real knowledge there be littleyet of books there are a plenty; and
so in some small degreewith cetologyor the science of whales.
Many are the mensmall and greatold and newlandsmen and seamen
who have at large or in littlewritten 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 writtenthe above cited extracts will show.

Of the names in this list of whale authorsonly those following Owen
ever saw living whales; and but one of them was a real professional
harpooneer and whaleman. I mean Captain Scoresby. On the separate
subject of the Greenland or right-whalehe is the best existing
authority. But Scoresby knew nothing and says nothing of the great
sperm whalecompared with which the Greenland whale is almost
unworthy mentioning. And here be it saidthat the Greenland whale
is an usurper upon the throne of the seas. He is not even by any
means the largest of the whales. Yetowing to the long priority of
his claimsand the profound ignorance whichtill some seventy years
backinvested the then fabulous or utterly unknown sperm-whaleand
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 dayswill satisfy you that the Greenland
whalewithout one rivalwas 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 youand at the same timein the remotest
degree succeed in the attempt. Those books are Beale's and
Bennett's; both in their time surgeons to English South-Sea
whale-shipsand 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 goesit is of excellent qualitythough
mostly confined to scientific description. As yethoweverthe
sperm whalescientific or poeticlives not complete in any
literature. Far above all other hunted whaleshis is an unwritten

Now the various species of whales need some sort of popular
comprehensive classificationif only an easy outline one for the
presenthereafter to be filled in all its departments by subsequent
laborers. As no better man advances to take this matter in handI
hereupon offer my own poor endeavors. I promise nothing complete;
because any human thing supposed to be completemust for that very
reason infallibly be faulty. I shall not pretend to a minute
anatomical description of the various speciesor--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
architectnot 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 bottom of the sea
after them; to have one's hands among the unspeakable foundations
ribsand 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 uncertainunsettled condition of this science of Cetology
is in the very vestibule attested by the factthat in some quarters
it still remains a moot point whether a whale be a fish. In his
System of NatureA.D. 1776Linnaeus declaresI hereby separate
the whales from the fish.But of my own knowledgeI know that down
to the year 1850sharks and shadalewives and herringagainst
Linnaeus's express edictwere 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 watershe states as follows: "On account of their warm
bilocular hearttheir lungstheir movable eyelidstheir hollow
earspenem intrantem feminam mammis lactantem and finally, ex
lege naturae jure meritoque." I submitted all this to my friends
Simeon Macey and Charley Coffinof Nantucketboth messmates of mine
in a certain voyageand they united in the opinion that the reasons
set forth were altogether insufficient. Charley profanely hinted
they were humbug.

Be it known thatwaiving all argumentI take the good old fashioned
ground that the whale is a fishand call upon holy Jonah to back me.
This fundamental thing settledthe next point isin what internal
respect does the whale differ from other fish. AboveLinnaeus has
given you those items. But in briefthey are these: lungs and warm
blood; whereasall other fish are lungless and cold blooded.

Next: how shall we define the whaleby his obvious externalsso as
conspicuously to label him for all time to come? To be shortthen
him. However contractedthat definition is the result of expanded
meditation. A walrus spouts much like a whalebut the walrus is not
a fishbecause he is amphibious. But the last term of the
definition is still more cogentas coupled with the first. Almost
any one must have noticed that all the fish familiar to landsmen have

not a flatbut a verticalor up-and-down tail. Whereasamong
spouting fish the tailthough it may be similarly shapedinvariably
assumes a horizontal position.

By the above definition of what a whale isI do by no means exclude
from the leviathanic brotherhood any sea creature hitherto identified
with the whale by the best informed Nantucketers; noron the other
handlink with it any fish hitherto authoritatively regarded as
alien.* Henceall the smallerspoutingand horizontal tailed fish
must be included in this ground-plan of Cetology. Nowthencome
the grand divisions of the entire whale host.

*I am aware that down to the present timethe 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 noisycontemptible setmostly lurking in the mouths of
riversand feeding on wet hayand 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
allboth small and large.

As the type of the FOLIO I present the SPERM WHALE; of the OCTAVO

FOLIOS. Among these I here include the following chapters:--I. The

BOOK I. (FOLIO)CHAPTER I. (SPERM WHALE).--This whaleamong the
English of old vaguely known as the Trumpa whaleand the Physeter
whaleand the Anvil Headed whaleis the present Cachalot of the
Frenchand the Pottsfich of the Germansand the Macrocephalus of
the Long Words. He iswithout doubtthe largest inhabitant of the
globe; the most formidable of all whales to encounter; the most
majestic in aspect; and lastlyby far the most valuable in commerce;
he being the only creature from which that valuable substance
spermacetiis obtained. All his peculiarities willin many other
placesbe enlarged upon. It is chiefly with his name that I now
have to do. Philologically consideredit is absurd. Some centuries
agowhen the Sperm whale was almost wholly unknown in his own
proper individualityand when his oil was only accidentally obtained
from the stranded fish; in those days spermacetiit would seemwas
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 alsothat this same spermaceti was that quickening humor of
the Greenland Whale which the first syllable of the word literally
expresses. In those timesalsospermaceti was exceedingly scarce
not being used for lightbut only as an ointment and medicament. It
was only to be had from the druggists as you nowadays buy an ounce of
rhubarb. Whenas I opinein the course of timethe true nature of
spermaceti became knownits 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 leviathansbeing 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 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.

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 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 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 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
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.

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;

*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 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 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.

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-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 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 Leicesteron bended kneesdid
likewise present to her highness another hornpertaining to a land
beast of the unicorn nature.

The Narwhale has a very picturesqueleopard-like lookbeing of a
milk-white ground colourdotted with round and oblong spots of black.
His oil is very superiorclear 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 Nantucketerand 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 lipand hangs there like a leechtill the mighty
brute is worried to death. The Killer is never hunted. I never
heard what sort of oil he has. Exception might be taken to the name
bestowed upon this whaleon the ground of its indistinctness. For
we are all killerson land and on sea; Bonapartes and Sharks

BOOK II. (OCTAVO)CHAPTER V. (THRASHER).--This gentleman is famous
for his tailwhich he uses for a ferule in thrashing his foes. He
mounts the Folio whale's backand as he swimshe 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 outlawseven 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

To those who have not chanced specially to study the subjectit may
possibly seem strangethat fishes not commonly exceeding four or
five feet should be marshalled among WHALES--a wordwhichin the
popular sensealways conveys an idea of hugeness. But the creatures
set down above as Duodecimoes are infallibly whalesby the terms of
my definition of what a whale is--i.e. a spouting fishwith a
horizontal tail.

common porpoise found almost all over the globe. The name is of my
own bestowal; for there are more than one sort of porpoisesand
something must be done to distinguish them. I call him thusbecause
he always swims in hilarious shoalswhich 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 spiritsthey 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 fishthen heaven help ye; the
spirit of godly gamesomeness is not in ye. A well-fedplump 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 eatingyou know. It may never
have occurred to you that a porpoise spouts. Indeedhis spout is so
small that it is not very readily discernible. But the next time you
have a chancewatch him; and you will then see the great Sperm whale
himself in miniature.

Very savage. He is only foundI thinkin the Pacific. He is
somewhat larger than the Huzza Porpoisebut much of the same general
make. Provoke himand he will buckle to a shark. I have lowered
for him many timesbut never yet saw him captured.

largest kind of Porpoise; and only found in the Pacificso far as it
is known. The only English nameby which he has hitherto been
designatedis that of the fishers--Right-Whale Porpoisefrom the
circumstance that he is chiefly found in the vicinity of that Folio.
In shapehe differs in some degree from the Huzza Porpoisebeing of
a less rotund and jolly girth; indeedhe is of quite a neat and
gentleman-like figure. He has no fins on his back (most other
porpoises have)he has a lovely tailand 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 sableyet a boundary line
distinct as the mark in a ship's hullcalled the "bright waist
that line streaks him from 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 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!


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, 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 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 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 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!


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, DinnerMr. 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, DinnerMr. 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 with
that important rope, he likewise takes up the old burden, and with a
rapid DinnerMr. 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

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 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 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 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 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 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 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, 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

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 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!


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 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 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 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 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

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 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

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 Icebergsin quest of the Greenland Whaleand
incidentally for the re-discovery of the Lost Icelandic Colonies of
Old Greenland;" in this admirable volumeall standers of mast-heads
are furnished with a charmingly circumstantial account of the then
recently invented CROW'S-NEST of the Glacierwhich was the name of
Captain Sleet's good craft. He called it the SLEET'S CROW'S-NESTin
honour of himself; he being the original inventor and patenteeand
free from all ridiculous false delicacyand 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 shapethe Sleet's
crow's-nest is something like a large tierce or pipe; it is open
abovehoweverwhere 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 mastyou ascend into it through a little trap-hatch in
the bottom. On the after sideor side next the stern of the ship
is a comfortable seatwith a locker underneath for umbrellas
comfortersand coats. In front is a leather rackin which to keep
your speaking trumpetpipetelescopeand other nautical
conveniences. When Captain Sleet in person stood his mast-head in
this crow's-nest of hishe 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 narwhalesor vagrant sea
unicorns infesting those waters; for you cannot successfully shoot at
them from the deck owing to the resistance of the waterbut to shoot
down upon them is a very different thing. Nowit was plainly a
labor of love for Captain Sleet to describeas he doesall the
little detailed conveniences of his crow's-nest; but though he so
enlarges upon many of theseand though he treats us to a very
scientific account of his experiments in this crow's-nestwith 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 planksand in the Glacier's caseperhapsto
there having been so many broken-down blacksmiths among her crew; I
saythat though the Captain is very discreet and scientific here
yetfor 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
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 openand sing out every time."

And let me in this place movingly admonish youye ship-owners of
Nantucket! Beware of enlisting in your 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 oneI say; your whales must be seen before
they can be killed; and this sunken-eyed young Platonist will tow you
ten wakes round the worldand never make you one pint of sperm the
richer. Nor are these monitions at all unneeded. For nowadaysthe
whale-fishery furnishes an asylum for many romanticmelancholyand
absent-minded young mendisgusted 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-shipand 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 taskupbraiding them with not feeling
sufficient "interest" in the voyage; half-hinting that they are so
hopelessly lost to all honourable ambitionas 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 usethento strain the
visual nerve? They have left their opera-glasses at home.

Why, thou monkey,said a harpooneer to one of these ladswe'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 vacantunconscious reverie is this absent-minded
youth by the blending cadence of waves with thoughtsthat at last he
loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the
visible image of that deepbluebottomless soulpervading mankind
and nature; and every strangehalf-seenglidingbeautiful thing
that eludes him; every dimly-discovereduprising fin of some
undiscernible formseems to him the embodiment of those elusive
thoughts that only people the soul by continually flitting through
it. In this enchanted moodthy spirit ebbs away to whence it came;
becomes diffused through time and space; like Crammer's sprinkled
Pantheistic ashesforming at last a part of every shore the round
globe over.

There is no life in theenowexcept that rocking life imparted by a
gently rolling ship; by herborrowed from the sea; by the seafrom
the inscrutable tides of God. But while this sleepthis dream is on
yemove your foot or hand an inch; slip your hold at all; and your
identity comes back in horror. Over Descartian vortices you hover.
And perhapsat mid-dayin the fairest weatherwith one
half-throttled shriek you drop through that transparent air into the
summer seano more to rise for ever. Heed it wellye Pantheists!


The Quarter-Deck.


It was not a great while after the affair of the pipethat one
morning shortly after breakfastAhabas was his wontascended the
cabin-gangway to the deck. There most sea-captains usually walk at
that houras country gentlemenafter the same mealtake a few
turns in the garden.

Soon his steadyivory stride was heardas to and fro he paced his
old roundsupon planks so familiar to his treadthat they were all
over dentedlike geological stoneswith the peculiar mark of his
walk. Did you fixedly gazetooupon that ribbed and dented brow;
there alsoyou would see still stranger foot-prints--the foot-prints
of his one unsleepingever-pacing thought.

But on the occasion in questionthose dents looked deepereven as
his nervous step that morning left a deeper mark. Andso full of
his thought was Ahabthat at every uniform turn that he madenow at
the main-mast and now at the binnacleyou could almost see that
thought turn in him as he turnedand pace in him as he paced; so
completely possessing himindeedthat 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; anonpacing
the deckwith the same intense bigotry of purpose in his aspect.

It drew near the close of day. Suddenly he came to a halt by the
bulwarksand inserting his bone leg into the auger-hole thereand
with one hand grasping a shroudhe ordered Starbuck to send
everybody aft.

Sir!said the mateastonished at an order seldom or never given on
ship-board except in some extraordinary case.

Send everybody aft,repeated Ahab. "Mast-headsthere! come down!"

When the entire ship's company were assembledand with curious and
not wholly unapprehensive faceswere eyeing himfor he looked not
unlike the weather horizon when a storm is coming upAhabafter
rapidly glancing over the bulwarksand then darting his eyes among
the crewstarted 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 paceunmindful 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 Ahabwith 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 approvinggrew the
countenance of the old man at every shout; while the mariners began
to gaze curiously at each otheras if marvelling how it was that
they themselves became so excited at such seemingly purposeless

Butthey were all eagerness againas Ahabnow half-revolving in
his pivot-holewith one hand reaching high up a shroudand tightly
almost convulsively grasping itaddressed them thus:-

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. Starbuckhand me yon top-maul."

While the mate was getting the hammerAhabwithout speakingwas
slowly rubbing the gold piece against the skirts of his jacketas if
to heighten its lustreand without using any words was meanwhile
lowly humming to himselfproducing 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 Starbuckhe advanced towards the
main-mast with the hammer uplifted in one handexhibiting the gold
with the otherand 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 whalewith
three holes punctured in his starboard fluke--look yewhosoever of
ye raises me that same white whalehe shall have this gold ouncemy

Huzza! huzza!cried the seamenas with swinging tarpaulins they
hailed the act of nailing the gold to the mast.

It's a white whale, I say,resumed Ahabas he threw down the
topmaul: "a white whale. Skin your eyes for himmen; look sharp for
white water; if ye see but a bubblesing out."

All this while TashtegoDaggooand Queequeg had looked on with even
more intense interest and surprise than the restand 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 Tashtegothat white whale must be the same
that some call Moby Dick.

Moby Dick?shouted Ahab. "Do ye know the white whale thenTash?"

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 Daggoovery 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 disjointedlyall twiske-tee be-twisk, like
him--him--faltering hard for a wordand screwing his hand round
and round as though uncorking a bottle--"like him--him--"

Corkscrew!cried Ahabaye, 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 Starbuckwhowith Stubb and Flaskhad thus
far been eyeing his superior with increasing surprisebut 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 pausingAye, 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 terrificloudanimal soblike that of a
heart-stricken moose; "Ayeaye! it was that accursed white whale
that razeed me; made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever and a day!"
Then tossing both armswith measureless imprecations he shouted
out: "Ayeaye! and I'll chase him round Good Hopeand round the
Hornand round the Norway Maelstromand round perdition's flames
before I give him up. And this is what ye have shipped formen! to
chase that white whale on both sides of landand over all sides of
earthtill he spouts black blood and rolls fin out. What say ye
menwill ye splice hands on itnow? I think ye do look brave."

Aye, aye!shouted the harpooneers and seamenrunning 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 aboutMr. 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

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 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 Stubbwhat's that for? methinks it
rings most vast, but hollow.

Vengeance on a dumb brute!cried Starbuckthat 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 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) 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 Starbucklowly.

But in his joy at the enchantedtacit acquiescence of the mateAhab
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 mastsas
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. Ahye admonitions and warnings! why stay ye
not when ye come? But rather are ye predictions than warningsye
shadows! Yet not so much predictions from withoutas verifications
of the foregoing things within. For with little external to
constrain usthe innermost necessities in our beingthese still
drive us on.

The measure! the measure!cried Ahab.

Receiving the brimming pewterand turning to the harpooneershe
ordered them to produce their weapons. Then ranging them before him
near the capstanwith their harpoons in their handswhile his three
mates stood at his side with their lancesand 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
hisas the bloodshot eyes of the prairie wolves meet the eye of
their leaderere he rushes on at their head in the trail of the
bison; butalas! only to fall into the hidden snare of the Indian.

Drink and pass!he criedhanding the heavy charged flagon to the
nearest seaman. "The crew alone now drink. Round with itround!
Short draughts--long swallowsmen; '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! Menye seem the
years; so brimming life is gulped and gone. Stewardrefill!

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 run brimming
again, were't not thou St. Vitus' imp--away, thou ague!

Advanceye mates! Cross your lances full before me. Well done!
Let me touch the axis." So sayingwith extended armhe grasped the
three levelradiating lances at their crossed centre; while so
doingsuddenly and nervously twitched them; meanwhileglancing
intently from Starbuck to Stubb; from Stubb to Flask. It seemed as
thoughby some namelessinterior volitionhe 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 strongsustainedand mystic aspect. Stubb and Flask looked
sideways from him; the honest eye of Starbuck fell downright.

In vain!cried Ahab; "butmaybe'tis well. For did ye three but
once take the full-forced shockthen mine own electric thingTHAT
had perhaps expired from out me. Perchancetooit would have
dropped ye dead. Perchance ye need it not. Down lances! And now
ye matesI do appoint ye three cupbearers to my three pagan kinsmen
there--yon three most honourable gentlemen and noblemenmy valiant
harpooneers. Disdain the task? Whatwhen the great Pope washes the
feet of beggarsusing his tiara for ewer? Ohmy sweet cardinals!
your own condescensionTHAT shall bend ye to it. I do not order ye;
ye will it. Cut your seizings and draw the polesye harpooneers!"

Silently obeying the orderthe three harpooneers now stood with the
detached iron part of their harpoonssome three feet longheld
barbs upbefore 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!
Forthwithslowly going from one officer to the otherhe 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 longbarbed steel
goblets were lifted; and to cries and maledictions against the white
whalethe spirits were simultaneously quaffed down with a hiss.
Starbuck paledand turnedand shivered. Once moreand finally
the replenished pewter went the rounds among the frantic crew; when
waving his free hand to themthey all dispersed; and Ahab retired
within his cabin.




I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waterspaler cheekswhere'er
I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my track; let

them; but first I pass.

Yonderby ever-brimming goblet's rimthe 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. Isthenthe crown too heavy that I wear? this Iron Crown of
Lombardy. Yet is it bright with many a gem; I the wearersee not
its far flashings; but darkly feel that I wear thatthat dazzlingly
confounds. 'Tis iron--that I know--not gold. 'Tis splittoo--that
I feel; the jagged edge galls me somy brain seems to beat against
the solid metal; ayesteel skullmine; the sort that needs no
helmet in the most brain-battering fight!

Dry heat upon my brow? Oh! time waswhen as the sunrise nobly
spurred meso the sunset soothed. No more. This lovely lightit
lights not me; all loveliness is anguish to mesince I can ne'er
enjoy. Gifted with the high perceptionI lack the lowenjoying
power; damnedmost subtly and most malignantly! damned in the midst
of Paradise! Good night--good night! (WAVING HIS HANDHE MOVES FROM

'Twas not so hard a task. I thought to find one stubbornat the
least; but my one cogged circle fits into all their various wheels
and they revolve. Orif you willlike so many ant-hills of powder
they all stand before me; and I their match. Ohhard! that to fire
othersthe match itself must needs be wasting! What I've dared
I've willed; and what I've willedI'll do! They think me
mad--Starbuck does; but I'm demoniacI 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. Nowthenbe the
prophet and the fulfiller one. That's more than yeye great gods
ever were. I laugh and hoot at yeye cricket-playersye 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 downand I am up again; but YE have run and hidden.
Come forth from behind your cotton bags! I have no long gun to
reach ye. ComeAhab's compliments to ye; come and see if ye can
swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannot swerve meelse ye swerve
yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed
purpose is laid with iron railswhereon my soul is grooved to run.
Over unsounded gorgesthrough the rifled hearts of mountainsunder
torrents' bedsunerringly I rush! Naught's an obstaclenaught's an
angle to the iron way!




My soul is more than matched; she's overmanned; and by a madman!
Insufferable stingthat sanity should ground arms on such a field!
But he drilled deep downand blasted all my reason out of me! I
think I see his impious end; but feel that I must help him to it.
Will Inill Ithe 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;--ayehe would be a democrat to all above; lookhow he
lords it over all below! Oh! I plainly see my miserable office--to
obeyrebelling; and worse yetto hate with touch of pity! For in

his eyes I read some lurid woe would shrivel me uphad I it. Yet is
there hope. Time and tide flow wide. The hated whale has the round
watery world to swim inas the small gold-fish has its glassy globe.
His heaven-insulting purposeGod may wedge aside. I would up
heartwere it not like lead. But my whole clock's run down; my
heart the all-controlling weightI have no key to lift again.


OhGod! 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
embattledbantering bowbut only to drag dark Ahab after itwhere
he broods within his sternward cabinbuilded over the dead water of
the wakeand further onhunted by its wolfish gurglings. The long
howl thrills me through! Peace! ye revellersand set the watch!
Ohlife! 'tis in an hour like thiswith soul beat down and held to
knowledge--as wilduntutored things are forced to feed--Ohlife!
'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
meyet will I try to fight yeye grimphantom futures! Stand by
mehold mebind meO ye blessed influences!


First Night Watch.



Ha! ha! ha! ha! hem! clear my throat!--I've been thinking over it
ever sinceand that haha's the final consequence. Why so?
Because a laugh's the wisesteasiest answer to all that's queer; and
come what willone 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 himtoo. I twigged itknew
it; had had the giftmight readily have prophesied it--for when I
clapped my eye upon his skull I saw it. WellStubbWISE
Stubb--that's my title--wellStubbwhat of itStubb? Here's a
carcase. I know not all that may be comingbut be it what it will
I'll go to it laughing. Such a waggish leering as lurks in all your
horribles! I feel funny. Fala! lirraskirra! What's my juicy
little pear at home doing now? Crying its eyes out?--Giving a party
to the last arrived harpooneersI dare saygay as a frigate's
pennantand so am I--fala! lirraskirra! Oh--

We'll drink to-night with hearts as light
To loveas gay and fleeting
As bubbles that swimon the beaker's brim
And break on the lips while meeting.

A brave stave that--who calls? Mr. Starbuck? Ayeayesir--(ASIDE)
he's my superiorhe has his tooif I'm not mistaken.--Ayeaye
sirjust through with this job--coming.





Farewell and adieu to youSpanish ladies!
Farewell and adieu to youladies of Spain!
Our captain's commanded.--

Ohboysdon't be sentimental; it's bad for the digestion! Take a
tonicfollow me!

Our captain stood upon the deck
A spy-glass in his hand
A viewing of those gallant whales
That blew at every strand.
Ohyour tubs in your boatsmy boys
And by your braces stand
And we'll have one of those fine whales
Handboysover hand!
Sobe cheerymy lads! may your hearts never fail!
While the bold harpooner is striking the whale!

Eight bells thereforward!

Avast the chorus! Eight bells there! d'ye hearbell-boy? Strike
the bell eightthou Pip! thou blackling! and let me call the watch.
I've the sort of mouth for that--the hogshead mouth. Soso
(THRUSTS HIS HEAD DOWN THE SCUTTLE) Star-bo-l-e-e-n-sa-h-o-y!
Eight bells there below! Tumble up!

Grand snoozing to-nightmaty; 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--ayelie down therelike ground-tier
butts. At 'em again! Theretake this copper-pumpand hail 'em
through it. Tell 'em to avast dreaming of their lasses. Tell 'em
it's the resurrection; they must kiss their lastand come to
judgment. That's the way--THAT'S it; thy throat ain't spoiled with
eating Amsterdam butter.

Histboys! 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!

Don't know where it is.

Beat thy bellythenand wag thy ears. Jig itmenI say; merry's
the word; hurrah! Damn mewon't you dance? FormnowIndian-file

and gallop into the double-shuffle? Throw yourselves! Legs! legs!

I don't like your floormaty; 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.

Me too; where's your girls? Who but a fool would take his left hand
by his rightand say to himselfhow d'ye do? Partners! I must
have partners!

Aye; girls and a green!--then I'll hop with ye; yeaturn

Wellwellye sulkiesthere's plenty more of us. Hoe corn when you
maysay I. All legs go to harvest soon. Ah! here comes the music;
now for it!

Here you arePip; and there's the windlass-bitts; up you mount!

Go itPip! Bang itbell-boy! Rig itdig itstig itquig it
bell-boy! Make fire-flies; break the jinglers!

Jinglersyou say?--there goes anotherdropped off; I pound it so.

Rattle thy teeththenand pound away; make a pagoda of thyself.

Merry-mad! Hold up thy hoopPiptill I jump through it! Split
jibs! tear yourselves!

That's a white man; he calls that fun: humph! I save my sweat.

I wonder whether those jolly lads bethink them of what they are
dancing over. I'll dance over your graveI will--that's the
bitterest threat of your night-womenthat beat head-winds round
corners. O Christ! to think of the green navies and the
green-skulled crews! Wellwell; belike the whole world's a ballas
you scholars have it; and so 'tis right to make one ballroom of it.
Dance onladsyou're young; I was once.

Spell oh!--whew! this is worse than pulling after whales in a
calm--give us a whiffTash.


By Brahma! boysit'll be douse sail soon. The sky-bornhigh-tide
Ganges turned to wind! Thou showest thy black browSeeva!

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 womenthen I'd go
drownand chassee with them evermore! There's naught so sweet on
earth--heaven may not match it!--as those swift glances of warmwild
bosoms in the dancewhen the over-arboring arms hide such ripe
bursting grapes.

Tell me not of it! Hark yelad--fleet interlacings of the
limbs--lithe swayings--coyings--flutterings! lip! heart! hip! all
graze: unceasing touch and go! not tasteobserve yeelse come
satiety. EhPagan? (NUDGING.)

Hailholy nakedness of our dancing girls!--the Heeva-Heeva! Ah! low
veiledhigh palmed Tahiti! I still rest me on thy matbut the soft
soil has slid! I saw thee woven in the woodmy 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 thenif 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! Upspineand meet it! (LEAPS TO HIS FEET.)

How the sea rolls swashing 'gainst the side! Stand by for reefing
hearties! the winds are just crossing swordspell-mell they'll go
lunging presently.

Crackcrackold ship! so long as thou crackestthou holdest! Well
done! The mate there holds ye to it stiffly. He's no more afraid
than the isle fort at Cattegatput there to fight the Baltic with
storm-lashed gunson which the sea-salt cakes!

He has his ordersmind ye that. I heard old Ahab tell him he must
always kill a squallsomething as they burst a waterspout with a
pistol--fire your ship right into it!

Blood! but that old man's a grand old cove! We are the lads to hunt
him up his whale!

Aye! aye!

How the three pines shake! Pines are the hardest sort of tree to
live when shifted to any other soiland here there's none but the
crew's cursed clay. Steadyhelmsman! steady. This is the sort of
weather when brave hearts snap ashoreand keeled hulls split at sea.
Our captain has his birthmark; look yonderboysthere's another in
the sky--lurid-likeye seeall else pitch black.

What of that? Who's afraid of black's afraid of me! I'm quarried

out of it!

(ASIDE.) He wants to bullyah!--the old grudge makes me touchy
(ADVANCING.) Ayeharpooneerthy race is the undeniable dark side of
mankind--devilish dark at that. No offence.


That Spaniard's mad or drunk. But that can't beor else in his one
case our old Mogul's fire-waters are somewhat long in working.

What's that I saw--lightning? Yes.

No; Daggoo showing his teeth.

Swallow thinemannikin! White skinwhite liver!

Knife thee heartily! big framesmall spirit!

A row! a row! a row!

A row a'lowand a row aloft--Gods and men--both brawlers! Humph!

A row! arrah a row! The Virgin be blesseda row! Plunge in with

Fair play! Snatch the Spaniard's knife! A ringa ring!

Ready formed. There! the ringed horizon. In that ring Cain struck
Abel. Sweet workright work! No? Why thenGodmad'st thou the

Hands by the halyards! in top-gallant sails! Stand by to reef

The squall! the squall! jumpmy jollies! (THEY SCATTER.)

Jollies? Lord help such jollies! Crishcrash! there goes the
jib-stay! Blang-whang! God! Duck lowerPiphere comes the royal
yard! It's worse than being in the whirled woodsthe last day of
the year! Who'd go climbing after chestnuts now? But there they
goall cursingand here I don't. Fine prospects to 'em; they're on
the road to heaven. Hold on hard! Jimminiwhat a squall! But
those chaps there are worse yet--they are your white squallsthey.
White squalls? white whaleshirr! shirr! Here have I heard all
their chat just nowand 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!

Ohthou big white God aloft there somewhere in yon darknesshave
mercy on this small black boy down here; preserve him from all men
that have no bowels to feel fear!


Moby Dick.

IIshmaelwas 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 oathbecause of the dread in my
soul. A wildmysticalsympathetical 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 pastthough at intervals onlythe 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 themcomparativelyhad knowingly seen
him; while the number who as yet had actually and knowingly given
battle to himwas small indeed. Forowing to the large number of
whale-cruisers; the disorderly way they were sprinkled over the
entire watery circumferencemany of them adventurously pushing their
quest along solitary latitudesso as seldom or never for a whole
twelvemonth or more on a stretchto encounter a single news-telling
sail of any sort; the inordinate length of each separate voyage; the
irregularity of the times of sailing from home; all thesewith other
circumstancesdirect and indirectlong obstructed the spread
through the whole world-wide whaling-fleet of the special
individualizing tidings concerning Moby Dick. It was hardly to be
doubtedthat several vessels reported to have encounteredat such
or such a timeor on such or such a meridiana Sperm Whale of
uncommon magnitude and malignitywhich whaleafter doing great
mischief to his assailantshad completely escaped them; to some
minds it was not an unfair presumptionI saythat 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 ferocitycunningand malice in the monster
attacked; therefore it wasthat those who by accident ignorantly
gave battle to Moby Dick; such huntersperhapsfor the most part
were content to ascribe the peculiar terror he bredmoreas it
wereto the perils of the Sperm Whale fishery at largethan to the
individual cause. In that waymostlythe disastrous encounter
between Ahab and the whale had hitherto been popularly regarded.

And as for those whopreviously hearing of the White Whaleby
chance caught sight of him; in the beginning of the thing they had
every one of themalmostas boldly and fearlessly lowered for him
as for any other whale of that species. But at lengthsuch
calamities did ensue in these assaults--not restricted to sprained
wrists and anklesbroken limbsor 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 huntersto
whom the story of the White Whale had eventually come.

Nor did wild rumors of all sorts fail to exaggerateand 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; butin maritime lifefar more than in that of terra firma
wild rumors aboundwherever there is any adequate reality for them
to cling to. And as the sea surpasses the land in this matterso
the whale fishery surpasses every other sort of maritime lifein 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
sailorsthey are by all odds the most directly brought into contact
with whatever is appallingly astonishing in the sea; face to face
they not only eye its greatest marvelsbuthand to jawgive battle
to them. Alonein such remotest watersthat though you sailed a
thousand milesand passed a thousand shoresyou would not come to
any chiseled hearth-stoneor aught hospitable beneath that part of
the sun; in such latitudes and longitudespursuing too such a
calling as he doesthe whaleman is wrapped by influences all tending
to make his fancy pregnant with many a mighty birth.

No wonderthenthat ever gathering volume from the mere transit
over the widest watery spacesthe outblown rumors of the White Whale
did in the end incorporate with themselves all manner of morbid
hintsand 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 strikethat few who by those rumorsat leasthad
heard of the White Whalefew 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 Whaleas fearfully distinguished from all other species of the
leviathandied out of the minds of the whalemen as a body. There
are those this day among themwhothough intelligent and courageous
enough in offering battle to the Greenland or Right whalewould
perhaps--either from professional inexperienceor incompetencyor
timiditydecline a contest with the Sperm Whale; at any ratethere
are plenty of whalemenespecially among those whaling nations not
sailing under the American flagwho have never hostilely encountered
the Sperm Whalebut whose sole knowledge of the leviathan is
restricted to the ignoble monster primitively pursued in the North;
seated on their hatchesthese men will hearken with a childish
fireside interest and aweto the wildstrange tales of Southern
whaling. Nor is the pre-eminent tremendousness of the great Sperm
Whale anywhere more feelingly comprehendedthan 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 seabut also to
be so incredibly ferocious as continually to be athirst for human
blood. Nor even down to so late a time as Cuvier'swere these or
almost similar impressions effaced. For in his Natural Historythe
Baron himself affirms that at sight of the Sperm Whaleall 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 terriblenesseven to the bloodthirsty
item of Povelsonthe superstitious belief in them isin some
vicissitudes of their vocationrevived in the minds of the hunters.

So that overawed by the rumors and portents concerning himnot a few
of the fishermen recalledin reference to Moby Dickthe earlier
days of the Sperm Whale fisherywhen 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 pursuedyet to chase and point lance
at such an apparition as the Sperm Whale was not for mortal man.
That to attempt itwould be inevitably to be torn into a quick
eternity. On this headthere are some remarkable documents that may
be consulted.

Neverthelesssome there werewho even in the face of these things
were ready to give chase to Moby Dick; and a still greater number
whochancing only to hear of him distantly and vaguelywithout the
specific details of any certain calamityand without superstitious
accompanimentswere sufficiently hardy not to flee from the battle
if offered.

One of the wild suggestions referred toas at last coming to be
linked with the White Whale in the minds of the superstitiously
inclinedwas 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.

Norcredulous as such minds must have beenwas this conceit
altogether without some faint show of superstitious probability. For
as the secrets of the currents in the seas have never yet been
divulgedeven to the most erudite research; so the hidden ways of
the Sperm Whale when beneath the surface remainin 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 wherebyafter sounding to a
great depthhe transports 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
Scoresbythat some whales have been captured far north in the
Pacificin whose bodies have been found the barbs of harpoons darted
in the Greenland seas. Nor is it to be gainsaidthat 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.
Henceby inferenceit has been believed by some whalementhat the
Nor' West Passageso long a problem to manwas never a problem to
the whale. So that herein the real living experience of living
menthe 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 familiaritythenwith such prodigies as these; and
knowing that after repeatedintrepid assaultsthe 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 ubiquitousbut immortal (for immortality is but
ubiquity in time); that though groves of spears should be planted in
his flankshe would still swim away unharmed; or if indeed he should
ever be made to spout thick bloodsuch a sight would be but a
ghastly deception; for again in unensanguined billows hundreds of
leagues awayhis unsullied jet would once more be seen.

But even stripped of these supernatural surmisingsthere was enough
in the earthly make and incontestable character of the monster to
strike the imagination with unwonted power. Forit was not so much

his uncommon bulk that so much distinguished him from other sperm
whalesbutas was elsewhere thrown out--a peculiar snow-white
wrinkled foreheadand a highpyramidical white hump. These were
his prominent features; the tokens wherebyeven in the limitless
uncharted seashe revealed his identityat a long distanceto
those who knew him.

The rest of his body was so streakedand spottedand marbled with
the same shrouded huethatin the endhe had gained his
distinctive appellation of the White Whale; a nameindeedliterally
justified by his vivid aspectwhen seen gliding at high noon through
a dark blue sealeaving a milky-way wake of creamy foamall
spangled with golden gleamings.

Nor was it his unwonted magnitudenor his remarkable huenor yet
his deformed lower jawthat so much invested the whale with natural
terroras that unexampledintelligent malignity whichaccording to
specific accountshe had over and over again evinced in his
assaults. More than allhis treacherous retreats struck more of
dismay than perhaps aught else. Forwhen swimming before his
exulting pursuerswith every apparent symptom of alarmhe had
several times been known to turn round suddenlyandbearing down
upon themeither stave their boats to splintersor drive them back
in consternation to their ship.

Already several fatalities had attended his chase. But though
similar disastershowever little bruited ashorewere by no means
unusual in the fishery; yetin most instancessuch seemed the White
Whale's infernal aforethought of ferocitythat every dismembering or
death that he causedwas not wholly regarded as having been
inflicted by an unintelligent agent.

Judgethento what pitches of inflameddistracted fury the minds
of his more desperate hunters were impelledwhen amid the chips of
chewed boatsand the sinking limbs of torn comradesthey swam out
of the white curds of the whale's direful wrath into the serene
exasperating sunlightthat smiled onas if at a birth or a bridal.

His three boats stove around himand oars and men both whirling in
the eddies; one captainseizing the line-knife from his broken prow
had dashed at the whaleas an Arkansas duellist at his foeblindly
seeking with a six inch blade to reach the fathom-deep life of the
whale. That captain was Ahab. And then it wasthat suddenly
sweeping his sickle-shaped lower jaw beneath himMoby Dick had
reaped away Ahab's legas a mower a blade of grass in the field. No
turbaned Turkno hired Venetian or Malaycould have smote him with
more seeming malice. Small reason was there to doubtthenthat
ever since that almost fatal encounterAhab had cherished a wild
vindictiveness against the whaleall the more fell for that in his
frantic morbidness he at last came to identify with himnot only all
his bodily woesbut 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 themtill 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 whalehe pitted himselfall mutilatedagainst 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 evilto
crazy Ahabwere visibly personifiedand 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
thenas if his chest had been a mortarhe 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. Thenin darting at
the monsterknife in handhe had but given loose to a sudden
passionatecorporal animosity; and when he received the stroke that
tore himhe probably but felt the agonizing bodily lacerationbut
nothing more. Yetwhen by this collision forced to turn towards
homeand for long months of days and weeksAhab and anguish lay
stretched together in one hammockrounding in mid winter that
drearyhowling Patagonian Cape; then it wasthat his torn body and
gashed soul bled into one another; and so interfusingmade him mad.
That it was only thenon the homeward voyageafter the encounter
that the final monomania seized himseems all but certain from the
fact thatat intervals during the passagehe was a raving lunatic;
andthough unlimbed of a legyet such vital strength yet lurked in
his Egyptian chestand was moreover intensified by his delirium
that his mates were forced to lace him fasteven thereas he
sailedraving in his hammock. In a strait-jackethe swung to the
mad rockings of the gales. Andwhen running into more sufferable
latitudesthe shipwith mild stun'sails spreadfloated across the
tranquil tropicsandto all appearancesthe old man's delirium
seemed left behind him with the Cape Horn swellsand he came forth
from his dark den into the blessed light and air; even thenwhen he
bore that firmcollected fronthowever paleand issued his calm
orders once again; and his mates thanked God the direful madness was
now gone; even thenAhabin his hidden selfraved on. Human
madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you
think it fledit may have but become transfigured into some still
subtler form. Ahab's full lunacy subsided notbut deepeningly
contracted; like the unabated Hudsonwhen that noble Northman flows
narrowlybut unfathomably through the Highland gorge. Butas in
his narrow-flowing monomanianot one jot of Ahab's broad madness had
been left behind; so in that broad madnessnot one jot of his great
natural intellect had perished. That before living agentnow became
the living instrument. If such a furious trope may standhis
special lunacy stormed his general sanityand carried itand turned
all its concentred cannon upon its own mad mark; so that far from
having lost his strengthAhabto that one enddid 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 largerdarkerdeeper part remains
unhinted. But vain to popularize profunditiesand 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 wonderfulnow
quit it;--and take your wayye noblersadder soulsto those vast
Roman halls of Thermes; where far beneath the fantastic towers of
man's upper earthhis root of grandeurhis whole awful essence sits
in bearded state; an antique buried beneath antiquitiesand throned
on torsoes! So with a broken thronethe great gods mock that
captive king; so like a Caryatidhe patient sitsupholding on his
frozen brow the piled entablatures of ages. Wind ye down thereye
proudersadder souls! question that proudsad king! A family
likeness! ayehe did beget yeye young exiled royalties; and from
your grim sire only will the old State-secret come.

Nowin his heartAhab had some glimpse of thisnamely: all my
means are sanemy motive and my object mad. Yet without power to
killor changeor shun the fact; he likewise knew that to mankind
he did long dissemble; in some sortdid still. But that thing of

his dissembling was only subject to his perceptibilitynot to his
will determinate. Neverthelessso well did he succeed in that
dissemblingthat when with ivory leg he stepped ashore at lastno
Nantucketer thought him otherwise than but naturally grievedand
that to the quickwith the terrible casualty which had overtaken

The report of his undeniable delirium at sea was likewise popularly
ascribed to a kindred cause. And so tooall the added moodiness
which always afterwardsto the very day of sailing in the Pequod on
the present voyagesat brooding on his brow. Nor is it so very
unlikelythat far from distrusting his fitness for another whaling
voyageon account of such dark symptomsthe calculating people of
that prudent isle were inclined to harbor the conceitthat for those
very reasons he was all the better qualified and set on edgefor a
pursuit so full of rage and wildness as the bloody hunt of whales.
Gnawed within and scorched withoutwith the infixedunrelenting
fangs of some incurable idea; such an onecould he be foundwould
seem the very man to dart his iron and lift his lance against the
most appalling of all brutes. Orif for any reason thought to be
corporeally incapacitated for thatyet such an one would seem
superlatively competent to cheer and howl on his underlings to the
attack. But be all this as it maycertain it isthat with the mad
secret of his unabated rage bolted up and keyed in himAhab 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 thenhow soon would their aghast and righteous souls have
wrenched the ship from such a fiendish man! They were bent on
profitable cruisesthe profit to be counted down in dollars from the
mint. He was intent on an audaciousimmitigableand supernatural

Herethenwas this grey-headedungodly old manchasing with
curses a Job's whale round the worldat the head of a crewtoo
chiefly made up of mongrel renegadesand castawaysand
cannibals--morally enfeebled alsoby the incompetence of mere
unaided virtue or right-mindedness in Starbuckthe invunerable
jollity of indifference and recklessness in Stubband the pervading
mediocrity in Flask. Such a crewso officeredseemed 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 themor how to their unconscious understandings
alsoin some dimunsuspected wayhe might have seemed the gliding
great demon of the seas of life--all this to explainwould be to
dive deeper than Ishmael can go. The subterranean miner that works
in us allhow can one tell whither leads his shaft by the ever
shiftingmuffled sound of his pick? Who does not feel the
irresistible arm drag? What skiff in tow of a seventy-four can stand
still? For oneI gave myself up to the abandonment of the time and
the place; but while yet all a-rush to encounter the whalecould see
naught in that brute but the deadliest ill.


The Whiteness of The Whale.

What the white whale was to Ahabhas been hinted; whatat timeshe

was to meas 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 thoughtor rather vaguenameless horror
concerning himwhich at times by its intensity completely
overpowered all the rest; and yet so mystical and well nigh ineffable
was itthat 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 yetin some dim
random wayexplain myself I mustelse all these chapters might be

Though in many natural objectswhiteness refiningly enhances beauty
as if imparting some special virtue of its ownas in marbles
japonicasand pearls; and though various nations have in some way
recognised a certain royal preeminence in this hue; even the
barbaricgrand old kings of Pegu placing the title "Lord of the
White Elephants" above all their other magniloquent ascriptions 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
Caesarianheir to overlording Romehaving for the imperial colour
the same imperial hue; and though this pre-eminence in it applies to
the human race itselfgiving the white man ideal mastership over
every dusky tribe; and thoughbesidesall thiswhiteness has been
even made significant of gladnessfor among the Romans a white stone
marked a joyful day; and though in other mortal sympathies and
symbolizingsthis same hue is made the emblem of many touching
noble things--the innocence of bridesthe 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 climeswhiteness
typifies the majesty of Justice in the ermine of the Judgeand
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 worshippersthe white
forked flame being held the holiest on the altar; and in the Greek
mythologiesGreat Jove himself being made incarnate in a snow-white
bull; and though to the noble Iroquoisthe midwinter sacrifice of
the sacred White Dog was by far the holiest festival of their
theologythat spotlessfaithful 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
whiteall Christian priests derive the name of one part of their
sacred vesturethe alb or tunicworn beneath the cassock; and
though among the holy pomps of the Romish faithwhite is specially
employed in the celebration of the Passion of our Lord; though in the
Vision of St. Johnwhite robes are given to the redeemedand the
four-and-twenty elders stand clothed in white before the great-white
throneand the Holy One that sitteth there white like wool; yet for
all these accumulated associationswith whatever is sweetand
honourableand sublimethere yet lurks an elusive something in the
innermost idea of this huewhich strikes more of panic to the soul
than that redness which affrights in blood.

This elusive quality it iswhich causes the thought of whiteness
when divorced from more kindly associationsand coupled with any
object terrible in itselfto heighten that terror to the furthest
bounds. Witness the white bear of the polesand the white shark of
the tropics; what but their smoothflaky whiteness makes them the
transcendent horrors they are? That ghastly whiteness it is which
imparts such an abhorrent mildnesseven more loathsome than
terrificto 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 bearit may possibly be urged by him
who would fain go still deeper into this matterthat it is not the
whitenessseparately regardedwhich heightens the intolerable
hideousness of that brute; foranalysedthat heightened
hideousnessit might be saidonly rises from the circumstancethat
the irresponsible ferociousness of the creature stands invested in
the fleece of celestial innocence and love; and henceby bringing
together two such opposite emotions in our mindsthe Polar bear
frightens us with so unnatural a contrast. But even assuming all
this to be true; yetwere it not for the whitenessyou would not
have that intensified terror.

As for the white sharkthe white gliding ghostliness of repose in
that creaturewhen beheld in his ordinary moodsstrangely 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 Romish mass for the dead begins with "Requiem eternam"
(eternal rest)whence REQUIEM denominating the mass itselfand any
other funeral music. Nowin allusion to the whitesilent stillness
of death in this sharkand the mild deadliness of his habitsthe
French call him REQUIN.

Bethink thee of the albatrosswhence come those clouds of spiritual
wonderment and pale dreadin which that white phantom sails in all
imaginations? Not Coleridge first threw that spell; but God's great
unflattering laureateNature.*

*I remember the first albatross I ever saw. It was during a
prolonged galein waters hard upon the Antarctic seas. From my
forenoon watch belowI ascended to the overclouded deck; and there
dashed upon the main hatchesI saw a regalfeathery thing of
unspotted whitenessand with a hookedRoman bill sublime. At
intervalsit arched forth its vast archangel wingsas if to embrace
some holy ark. Wondrous flutterings and throbbings shook it. Though
bodily unharmedit uttered criesas some king's ghost in
supernatural distress. Through its inexpressiblestrange eyes
methought I peeped to secrets which took hold of God. As Abraham
before the angelsI bowed myself; the white thing was so whiteits
wings so wideand in those for ever exiled watersI had lost the
miserable warping memories of traditions and of towns. Long I gazed
at that prodigy of plumage. I cannot tellcan only hintthe things
that darted through me then. But at last I awoke; and turningasked
a sailor what bird was this. A goneyhe 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 afterI 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 minewhen I saw that bird upon
our deck. For neither had I then read the Rhymenor knew the bird
to be an albatross. Yetin saying thisI do but indirectly burnish
a little brighter the noble merit of the poem and the poet.

I assertthenthat in the wondrous bodily whiteness of the bird
chiefly lurks the secret of the spell; a truth the more evinced in
thisthat by a solecism of terms there are birds called grey
albatrosses; and these I have frequently seenbut never with such
emotions as when I beheld the Antarctic fowl.

But how had the mystic thing been caught? Whisper it notand I will
tell; with a treacherous hook and lineas the fowl floated on the
sea. At last the Captain made a postman of it; tying a lettered
leathern tally round its neckwith the ship's time and place; and
then letting it escape. But I doubt notthat leathern tallymeant
for manwas taken off in Heavenwhen the white fowl flew to join
the wing-foldingthe invokingand 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-eyedsmall-headedbluff-chestedand with the dignity of a
thousand monarchs in his loftyoverscorning carriage. He was the
elected Xerxes of vast herds of wild horseswhose 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 manethe curving comet of his tailinvested him with housings
more resplendent than gold and silver-beaters could have furnished
him. A most imperial and archangelical apparition of that unfallen
western worldwhich to the eyes of the old trappers and hunters
revived the glories of those primeval times when Adam walked majestic
as a godbluff-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 plainslike 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
himselfalways 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 horsethat it was his spiritual
whiteness chieflywhich so clothed him with divineness; and that
this divineness had that in it whichthough commanding worshipat
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

What is it that in the Albino man so peculiarly repels and often
shocks the eyeas that sometimes he is loathed by his own kith and
kin! It is that whiteness which invests hima 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?

Norin quite other aspectsdoes Nature in her least palpable but
not the less malicious agenciesfail to enlist among her forces this
crowning attribute of the terrible. From its snowy aspectthe
gauntleted ghost of the Southern Seas has been denominated the White
Squall. Norin some historic instanceshas the art of human malice
omitted so potent an auxiliary. How wildly it heightens the effect
of that passage in Froissartwhenmasked in the snowy symbol of
their factionthe desperate White Hoods of Ghent murder their
bailiff in the market-place!

Norin some thingsdoes the commonhereditary experience of all
mankind fail to bear witness to the supernaturalism of this hue. It
cannot well be doubtedthat the one visible quality in the aspect of
the dead which most appals the gazeris the marble pallor lingering
there; as if indeed that pallor were as much like the badge of
consternation in the other worldas of mortal trepidation here. And
from that pallor of the deadwe 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--Yeawhile these terrors seize uslet us
addthat even the king of terrorswhen personified by the
evangelistrides on his pallid horse.

Thereforein his other moodssymbolize whatever grand or gracious
thing he will by whitenessno 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 fixedhow is mortal man to
account for it? To analyse itwould seem impossible. Can we
thenby 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
fearfulbut neverthelessis found to exert over us the same
sorceryhowever 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 thissubtlety appeals to subtlety
and without imagination no man can follow another into these halls.
And thoughdoubtlesssome at least of the imaginative impressions
about to be presented may have been shared by most menyet few
perhaps were entirely conscious of them at the timeand therefore
may not be able to recall them now.

Why to the man of untutored idealitywho happens to be but loosely
acquainted with the peculiar character of the daydoes the bare
mention of Whitsuntide marshal in the fancy such longdreary
speechless processions of slow-pacing pilgrimsdown-cast and hooded
with new-fallen snow? Orto the unreadunsophisticated Protestant
of the Middle American Stateswhy does the passing mention of a
White Friar or a White Nunevoke 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 Americanthan those other storied structuresits
neighbors--the Byward Toweror even the Bloody? And those sublimer
towersthe White Mountains of New Hampshirewhencein peculiar
moodscomes that gigantic ghostliness over the soul at the bare
mention of that namewhile the thought of Virginia's Blue Ridge is
full of a softdewydistant dreaminess? Or whyirrespective of
all latitudes and longitudesdoes the name of the White Sea exert
such a spectralness over the fancywhile that of the Yellow Sea
lulls us with mortal thoughts of long lacquered mild afternoons on
the wavesfollowed by the gaudiest and yet sleepiest of sunsets?
Orto choose a wholly unsubstantial instancepurely addressed to
the fancywhyin reading the old fairy tales of Central Europe
does "the tall pale man" of the Hartz forestswhose changeless
pallor unrustlingly glides through the green of the groves--why is
this phantom more terrible than all the whooping imps of the

Nor is italtogetherthe 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 spireswrenched cope-stonesand crosses all
adroop (like canted yards of anchored fleets); and her suburban
avenues of house-walls lying over upon each otheras a tossed pack
of cards;--it is not these things alone which make tearless Limathe
strangestsaddest 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 Pizarrothis 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

I know thatto the common apprehensionthis 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 mind
almost solely consists in this one phenomenonespecially 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 marinerwhen drawing nigh the coasts of foreign landsif
by night he hear the roar of breakersstarts to vigilanceand feels
just enough of trepidation to sharpen all his faculties; but under
precisely similar circumstanceslet 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 himthen he feels a silentsuperstitious
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
theeSir, 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 Peruthe continual sight of the
snowhowdahed Andes conveys naught of dreadexceptperhapsin the
mere fancying of the eternal frosted desolateness reigning at such
vast altitudesand 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 Westwho with comparative
indifference views an unbounded prairie sheeted with driven snowno
shadow of tree or twig to break the fixed trance of whiteness. Not
so the sailorbeholding the scenery of the Antarctic seas; where at
timesby some infernal trick of legerdemain in the powers of frost
and airheshivering and half shipwreckedinstead of rainbows
speaking hope and solace to his miseryviews what seems a boundless
churchyard grinning upon him with its lean ice monuments and
splintered crosses.

But thou sayestmethinks that white-lead chapter about whiteness is
but a white flag hung out from a craven soul; thou surrenderest to a

Tell mewhy this strong young coltfoaled in some peaceful valley
of Vermontfar removed from all beasts of prey--why is it that upon
the sunniest dayif you but shake a fresh buffalo robe behind him
so that he cannot even see itbut only smells its wild animal
muskiness--why will he startsnortand 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 northern homeso that the
strange muskiness he smells cannot recall to him anything associated
with the experience of former perils; for what knows hethis New
England coltof the black bisons of distant Oregon?

No; but here thou beholdest even in a dumb brutethe instinct of the
knowledge of the demonism in the world. Though thousands of miles
from Oregonstill when he smells that savage muskthe rending
goring bison herds are as present as to the deserted wild foal of the
prairieswhich this instant they may be trampling into dust.

Thusthenthe 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 theseto Ishmaelare 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 meas with the colt
somewhere those things must exist. Though in many of its aspects
this visible world seems formed in lovethe invisible spheres were
formed in fright.

But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whitenessand
learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange
and far more portentous--whyas we have seenit is at once the most
meaning symbol of spiritual thingsnaythe very veil of the
Christian's Deity; and yet should be as it isthe 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 universeand thus stabs us from behind with
the thought of annihilationwhen beholding the white depths of the
milky way? Or is itthat 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 blanknessfull of meaningin a wide landscape of snows--a
colourlessall-colour of atheism from which we shrink? And when we
consider that other theory of the natural philosophersthat all
other earthly hues--every stately or lovely emblazoning--the sweet
tinges of sunset skies and woods; yeaand the gilded velvets of
butterfliesand the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are
but subtile deceitsnot actually inherent in substancesbut only
laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints
like the harlotwhose allurements cover nothing but the
charnel-house within; and when we proceed furtherand consider that
the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her huesthe great
principle of lightfor ever remains white or colourless in itself
and if operating without medium upon matterwould touch all objects
even tulips and roseswith its own blank tinge--pondering all this
the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful
travellers in Laplandwho refuse to wear coloured and colouring
glasses upon their eyesso 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?



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 noiseCabaco?"

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.

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!


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 crewyou would have seen him go to a locker in the
transomand bringing out a large wrinkled roll of yellowish sea
chartsspread them before him on his screwed-down table. Then
seating himself before ityou 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 intervalshe would refer to piles of old log-books beside
himwherein were set down the seasons and places in whichon
various former voyages of various shipssperm whales had been
captured or seen.

While thus employedthe heavy pewter lamp suspended in chains over
his headcontinually rocked with the motion of the shipand for
ever threw shifting gleams and shadows of lines upon his wrinkled
browtill it almost seemed that while he himself was marking out
lines and courses on the wrinkled chartssome invisible pencil was
also tracing lines and courses upon the deeply marked chart of his

But it was not this night in particular thatin the solitude of his
cabinAhab 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 himAhab was threading a maze of currents and eddieswith a
view to the more certain accomplishment of that monomaniac thought of
his soul.

Nowto 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 Ahabwho knew the sets of all tides and currents; and
thereby calculating the driftings of the sperm whale's food; and
alsocalling to mind the regularascertained seasons for hunting
him in particular latitudes; could arrive at reasonable surmises
almost approaching to certaintiesconcerning the timeliest day to be
upon this or that ground in search of his prey.

So assuredindeedis the fact concerning the periodicalness of the
sperm whale's resorting to given watersthat many hunters believe
thatcould he be closely observed and studied throughout the world;
were the logs for one voyage of the entire whale fleet carefully
collatedthen 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 hintattempts have been made to
construct elaborate migratory charts of the sperm whale.*

*Since the above was writtenthe statement is happily borne out by
an official circularissued by Lieutenant Mauryof the National
ObservatoryWashingtonApril 16th1851. By that circularit
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 districtand the two
others to show the number of days in which whalessperm or right
have been seen."

Besideswhen making a passage from one feeding-ground to another
the sperm whalesguided by some infallible instinct--sayrather
secret intelligence from the Deity--mostly swim in VEINSas they are
called; continuing their way along a given ocean-line with such
undeviating exactitudethat no ship ever sailed her courseby any
chartwith one tithe of such marvellous precision. Thoughin these
casesthe direction taken by any one whale be straight as a
surveyor's paralleland though the line of advance be strictly
confined to its own unavoidablestraight wakeyet the arbitrary
VEIN in which at these times he is said to swimgenerally embraces
some few miles in width (more or lessas the vein is presumed to
expand or contract); but never exceeds the visual sweep from the
whale-ship's mast-headswhen circumspectly gliding along this magic
zone. The sum isthat at particular seasons within that breadth and
along that pathmigrating whales may with great confidence be looked

And hence not only at substantiated timesupon well known separate
feeding-groundscould Ahab hope to encounter his prey; but in
crossing the widest expanses of water between those grounds he could
by his artso place and time himself on his wayas 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 whales have their regular

seasons for particular groundsyet in general you cannot conclude
that the herds which haunted such and such a latitude or longitude
this yearsaywill 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 generalthe same remarkonly within a less wide limit
applies to the solitaries and hermits among the maturedaged sperm
whales. So that though Moby Dick had in a former year been seenfor
exampleon what is called the Seychelle ground in the Indian ocean
or Volcano Bay on the Japanese Coast; yet it did not followthat
were the Pequod to visit either of those spots at any subsequent
corresponding seasonshe would infallibly encounter him there. So
toowith some other feeding groundswhere he had at times revealed
himself. But all these seemed only his casual stopping-places and
ocean-innsso to speaknot his places of prolonged abode. And
where Ahab's chances of accomplishing his object have hitherto been
spoken ofallusion has only been made to whatever way-side
antecedentextra prospects were hisere a particular set time or
place were attainedwhen all possibilities would become
probabilitiesandas Ahab fondly thoughtevery 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 thenfor several consecutive yearsMoby Dick had been
periodically descriedlingering in those waters for awhileas the
sunin its annual roundloiters for a predicted interval in any one
sign of the Zodiac. There it wastoothat 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 hunthe
would not permit himself to rest all his hopes upon the one crowning
fact above mentionedhowever 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.

Nowthe 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 southwardsdouble Cape Hornand
then running down sixty degrees of latitude arrive in the equatorial
Pacific in time to cruise there. Thereforehe must wait for the
next ensuing season. Yet the premature hour of the Pequod's sailing
hadperhapsbeen correctly selected by Ahabwith a view to this
very complexion of things. Becausean interval of three hundred and
sixty-five days and nights was before him; an interval whichinstead
of impatiently enduring ashorehe would spend in a miscellaneous
hunt; if by chance the White Whalespending his vacation in seas far
remote from his periodical feeding-groundsshould turn up his
wrinkled brow off the Persian Gulfor in the Bengal Bayor China
Seasor in any other waters haunted by his race. So that Monsoons
PampasNor'-WestersHarmattansTrades; any wind but the Levanter
and Simoonmight blow Moby Dick into the devious zig-zag
world-circle of the Pequod's circumnavigating wake.

But granting all this; yetregarded discreetly and coollyseems it
not but a mad ideathis; that in the broad boundless oceanone
solitary whaleeven if encounteredshould be thought capable of
individual recognition from his huntereven as a white-bearded Mufti
in the thronged thoroughfares of Constantinople? Yes. For the
peculiar snow-white brow of Moby Dickand his snow-white humpcould
not but be unmistakable. And have I not tallied the whaleAhab
would mutter to himselfas 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 boredand scalloped out

like a lost sheep's ear! And herehis 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. AhGod! 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

Oftenwhen forced from his hammock by exhausting and intolerably
vivid dreams of the nightwhichresuming his own intense thoughts
through the daycarried them on amid a clashing of phrensiesand
whirled them round and round and round in his blazing braintill
the very throbbing of his life-spot became insufferable anguish; and
whenas was sometimes the casethese spiritual throes in him heaved
his being up from its baseand a chasm seemed opening in himfrom
which forked flames and lightnings shot upand accursed fiends
beckoned him to leap down among them; when this hell in himself
yawned beneath hima wild cry would be heard through the ship; and
with glaring eyes Ahab would burst from his state roomas though
escaping from a bed that was on fire. Yet theseperhapsinstead of
being the unsuppressable symptoms of some latent weaknessor fright
at his own resolvewere but the plainest tokens of its intensity.
Forat such timescrazy Ahabthe schemingunappeasedly 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 eternalliving principle or soul in him;
and in sleepbeing for the time dissociated from the characterizing
mindwhich at other times employed it for its outer vehicle or
agentit spontaneously sought escape from the scorching contiguity
of the frantic thingof whichfor the timeit was no longer an
integral. But as the mind does not exist unless leagued with the
soultherefore it must have been thatin Ahab's caseyielding up
all his thoughts and fancies to his one supreme purpose; that
purposeby its own sheer inveteracy of willforced itself against
gods and devils into a kind of self-assumedindependent being of its
own. Naycould grimly live and burnwhile the common vitality to
which it was conjoinedfled horror-stricken from the unbidden and
unfathered birth. Thereforethe tormented spirit that glared out of
bodily eyeswhen what seemed Ahab rushed from his roomwas for the
time but a vacated thinga formless somnambulistic beinga ray of
living lightto be surebut without an object to colourand
therefore a blankness in itself. God help theeold manthy
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.


The Affidavit.

So far as what there may be of a narrative in this book; andindeed
as indirectly touching one or two very interesting and curious
particulars in the habits of sperm whalesthe foregoing chapterin
its earlier partis 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 uponin order to be adequately understood
and moreover to take away any incredulity which a profound ignorance
of the entire subject may induce in some mindsas 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
itemspractically or reliably known to me as a whaleman; and from
these citationsI take it--the conclusion aimed at will naturally
follow of itself.

First: I have personally known three instances where a whaleafter
receiving a harpoonhas effected a complete escape; andafter an
interval (in one instance of three years)has been again struck by
the same handand slain; when the two ironsboth marked by the same
private cypherhave 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 happeningin the intervalto go in a trading ship on a voyage
to Africawent ashore therejoined a discovery partyand
penetrated far into the interiorwhere he travelled for a period of
nearly two yearsoften endangered by serpentssavagestigers
poisonous miasmaswith all the other common perils incident to
wandering in the heart of unknown regions. Meanwhilethe whale he
had struck must also have been on its travels; no doubt it had thrice
circumnavigated the globebrushing with its flanks all the coasts of
Africa; but to no purpose. This man and this whale again came
togetherand the one vanquished the other. I say Imyselfhave
known three instances similar to this; that is in two of them I saw
the whales struck; andupon the second attacksaw the two irons
with the respective marks cut in themafterwards taken from the dead
fish. In the three-year instanceit so fell out that I was in the
boat both timesfirst and lastand the last time distinctly
recognised a peculiar sort of huge mole under the whale's eyewhich
I had observed there three years previous. I say three yearsbut I
am pretty sure it was more than that. Here are three instances
thenwhich 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 Fisheryhowever
ignorant the world ashore may be of itthat 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 bethey soon
put an end to his peculiarities by killing himand 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
Rinaldiniinsomuch that most fishermen were content to recognise him
by merely touching their tarpaulins when he would be discovered
lounging by them on the seawithout seeking to cultivate a more
intimate acquaintance. Like some poor devils ashore that happen to
know an irascible great manthey make distant unobtrusive
salutations to him in the streetlest if they pursued the
acquaintance furtherthey might receive a summary thump for their

But not only did each of these famous whales enjoy great individual
celebrity--Nayyou 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 rightsprivilegesand distinctions
of a name; had as much a name indeed as Cambyses or Caesar. Was it
not soO Timor Tom! thou famed leviathanscarred like an iceberg
who so long did'st lurk in the Oriental straits of that namewhose
spout was oft seen from the palmy beach of Ombay? Was it not soO
New Zealand Jack! thou terror of all cruisers that crossed their
wakes in the vicinity of the Tattoo Land? Was it not soO Morquan!

King of Japanwhose lofty jet they say at times assumed the
semblance of a snow-white cross against the sky? Was it not soO
Don Miguel! thou Chilian whalemarked like an old tortoise with
mystic hieroglyphics upon the back! In plain prosehere 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 Miguelafter at
various times creating great havoc among the boats of different
vesselswere finally gone in quest ofsystematically hunted out
chased and killed by valiant whaling captainswho heaved up their
anchors with that express object as much in viewas in setting out
through the Narragansett WoodsCaptain Butler of old had it in his
mind to capture that notorious murderous savage Annawonthe headmost
warrior of the Indian King Philip.

I do not know where I can find a better place than just hereto make
mention of one or two other thingswhich to me seem importantas in
printed form establishing in all respects the reasonableness of the
whole story of the White Whalemore 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 worldthat
without some hints touching the plain factshistorical and
otherwiseof the fisherythey might scout at Moby Dick as a
monstrous fableor still worse and more detestablea hideous and
intolerable allegory.

First: Though most men have some vague flitting ideas of the general
perils of the grand fisheryyet they have nothing like a fixed
vivid conception of those perilsand the frequency with which they
recur. One reason perhaps isthat not one in fifty of the actual
disasters and deaths by casualties in the fisheryever finds a
public record at homehowever transient and immediately forgotten
that record. Do you suppose that that poor fellow therewho 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 factdid 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 Pacificamong many others we spoke thirty
different shipsevery one of which had had a death by a whalesome
of them more than oneand three that had each lost a boat's crew.
For God's sakebe economical with your lamps and candles! not a
gallon you burnbut at least one drop of man's blood was spilled for

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
enormousnessthey have significantly complimented me upon my
facetiousness; whenI declare upon my soulI had no more idea of
being facetious than Moseswhen 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 powerfulknowingand
judiciously maliciousas with direct aforethought to stave in
utterly destroyand sink a large ship; and what is morethe Sperm
Whale HAS done it.

First: In the year 1820 the ship EssexCaptain Pollardof
Nantucketwas cruising in the Pacific Ocean. One day she saw
spoutslowered her boatsand gave chase to a shoal of sperm whales.
Ere longseveral of the whales were wounded; whensuddenlya very
large whale escaping from the boatsissued from the shoaland bore
directly down upon the ship. Dashing his forehead against her hull
he so stove her inthat in less than "ten minutes" she settled down
and fell over. Not a surviving plank of her has been seen since.
After the severest exposurepart of the crew reached the land in
their boats. Being returned home at lastCaptain Pollard once more
sailed for the Pacific in command of another shipbut the gods
shipwrecked him again upon unknown rocks and breakers; for the second
time his ship was utterly lostand forthwith forswearing the seahe
has never tempted it since. At this day Captain Pollard is a
resident of Nantucket. I have seen Owen Chacewho 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
shipat a short interval between themboth of whichaccording to
their directionwere calculated to do us the most injuryby being
made aheadand thereby combining the speed of the two objects for
the shock; to effect whichthe exact manoeuvres which he made were
necessary. His aspect was most horribleand such as indicated
resentment and fury. He came directly from the shoal which we had
just before enteredand in which we had struck three of his
companionsas if fired with revenge for their sufferings." Again:
At all events, the whole circumstances taken together, all happening
before my own eyes, and 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 shipduring a
black night an open boatwhen almost despairing of reaching any
hospitable shore. "The dark ocean and swelling waters were nothing;
the fears of being swallowed up by some dreadful tempestor dashed
upon hidden rockswith all the other ordinary subjects of fearful
contemplationseemed scarcely entitled to a moment's thought; the
wholly engrossed my reflectionsuntil day again made its

In another place--p. 45--he speaks of "THE MYSTERIOUS AND MORTAL

Secondly: The ship Unionalso of Nantucketwas in the year 1807
totally lost off the Azores by a similar onsetbut 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.

Thirdly: Some eighteen or twenty years ago Commodore J---then
commanding an American sloop-of-war of the first classhappened to
be dining with a party of whaling captainson board a Nantucket ship
in the harbor of OahuSandwich Islands. Conversation turning upon
whalesthe Commodore was pleased to be sceptical touching the
amazing strength ascribed to them by the professional gentlemen
present. He peremptorily denied for examplethat 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 whalethat begged a few
moments' confidential business with him. That business consisted in
fetching the Commodore's craft such a thwackthat with all his pumps
going he made straight for the nearest port to heave down and repair.
I am not superstitiousbut 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 youthe sperm whale will
stand no nonsense.

I will now refer you to Langsdorff's Voyages for a little
circumstance in pointpeculiarly interesting to the writer hereof.
Langsdorffyou must know by the waywas attached to the Russian
Admiral Krusenstern's famous Discovery Expedition in the beginning of
the present century. Captain Langsdorff thus begins his seventeenth

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 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.

Nowthe Captain D'Wolf here alluded to as commanding the ship in
questionis a New Englanderwhoafter a long life of unusual
adventures as a sea-captainthis 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 shiphoweverwas 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 adventureso full
tooof honest wonders--the voyage of Lionel Waferone of ancient
Dampier's old chums--I found a little matter set down so like that
just quoted from Langsdorffthat I cannot forbear inserting it here
for a corroborative exampleif such be needed.

Lionelit seemswas 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 morningwhen we were about one hundred and fifty
leagues from the Main of Americaour 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. Andindeedthe shock was so sudden and violentthat we
took it for granted the ship had struck against a rock; but when the
amazement was a little overwe cast the leadand soundedbut found

no ground. .... The suddenness of the shock made the guns leap in
their carriagesand several of the men were shaken out of their
hammocks. Captain Daviswho lay with his head on a gunwas thrown
out of his cabin!" Lionel then goes on to impute the shock to an
earthquakeand seems to substantiate the imputation by stating that
a great earthquakesomewhere about that timedid actually do great
mischief along the Spanish land. But I should not much wonder ifin
the darkness of that early hour of the morningthe shock was after
all caused by an unseen whale vertically bumping the hull from

I might proceed with several more examplesone way or another known
to meof the great power and malice at times of the sperm whale. In
more than one instancehe has been knownnot only to chase the
assailing boats back to their shipsbut to pursue the ship itself
and long withstand all the lances hurled at him from its decks. The
English ship Pusie Hall can tell a story on that head; andas for
his strengthlet me saythat there have been examples where the
lines attached to a running sperm whale havein a calmbeen
transferred to the shipand secured there; the whale towing her
great hull through the wateras a horse walks off with a cart.
Againit is very often observed thatif the sperm whaleonce
struckis allowed time to rallyhe then actsnot so often with
blind rageas with wilfuldeliberate designs of destruction to his
pursuers; nor is it without conveying some eloquent indication of his
characterthat upon being attacked he will frequently open his
mouthand 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 oneby which you
will not fail to seethat not only is the most marvellous event in
this book corroborated by plain facts of the present daybut 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 Procopiusa Christian
magistrate of Constantinoplein the days when Justinian was Emperor
and Belisarius general. As many knowhe wrote the history of his
own timesa work every way of uncommon value. By the best
authoritieshe has always been considered a most trustworthy and
unexaggerating historianexcept in some one or two particularsnot
at all affecting the matter presently to be mentioned.

Nowin this history of hisProcopius mentions thatduring the term
of his prefecture at Constantinoplea great sea-monster was captured
in the neighboring Propontisor Sea of Marmoraafter 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 wasis not mentioned. But as he
destroyed shipsas well as for other reasonshe 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 bein the present constitution of thingsa
place for his habitual gregarious resort. But further investigations
have recently proved to methat in modern times there have been
isolated instances of the presence of the sperm whale in the
Mediterranean. I am toldon good authoritythat on the Barbary
coasta Commodore Davis of the British navy found the skeleton of a
sperm whale. Nowas a vessel of war readily passes through the
Dardanelleshence a sperm whale couldby the same routepass out
of the Mediterranean into the Propontis.

In the Propontisas far as I can learnnone of that peculiar
substance called BRIT is to be foundthe 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 seabecause
large creaturesbut by no means the largest of that sorthave been
found at its surface. Ifthenyou properly put these statements
togetherand reason upon them a bityou will clearly perceive that
according to all human reasoningProcopius's sea-monsterthat for
half a century stove the ships of a Roman Emperormust in all
probability have been a sperm whale.



Thoughconsumed with the hot fire of his purposeAhab 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 otherwisethere were not wanting other motives
much more influential with him. It would be refining too much
perhapseven considering his monomaniato hint that his
vindictiveness towards the White Whale might have possibly extended
itself in some degree to all sperm whalesand 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 exceptionablethere
were still additional considerations whichthough not so strictly
according with the wildness of his ruling passionyet were by no
means incapable of swaying him.

To accomplish his object Ahab must use tools; and of all tools used
in the shadow of the moonmen are most apt to get out of order. He
knewfor examplethat however magnetic his ascendency in some
respects was over Starbuckyet that ascendency did not cover the
complete spiritual man any more than mere corporeal superiority
involves intellectual mastership; for to the purely spiritualthe
intellectual but stand in a sort of corporeal relation. Starbuck's
body and Starbuck's coerced will were Ahab'sso long as Ahab kept
his magnet at Starbuck's brain; still he knew that for all this the
chief matein his soulabhorred his captain's questand could he
would joyfully disintegrate himself from itor 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 ordinaryprudentialcircumstantial influences were
brought to bear upon him. Not only thatbut the subtle insanity of
Ahab respecting Moby Dick was noways more significantly manifested
than in his superlative sense and shrewdness in foreseeing thatfor
the presentthe hunt should in some way be stripped of that strange
imaginative impiousness which naturally invested it; that the full
terror 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 watcheshis 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 weatherand they inhale its fickleness--and when
retained for any object remote and blank in the pursuithowever
promissory of life and passion in the endit 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 manthought Ahabis sordidness. Granting that the
White Whale fully incites the hearts of this my savage crewand
playing round their savageness even breeds a certain generous
knight-errantism in themstillwhile for the love of it they give
chase to Moby Dickthey must also have 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 sepulchrewithout committing burglaries
picking pocketsand gaining other pious perquisites by the way. Had
they been strictly held to their one final and romantic object--that
final and romantic objecttoo many would have turned from in
disgust. I will not strip these menthought Ahabof all hopes of
cash--ayecash. They may scorn cash now; but let some months go by
and no perspective promise of it to themand then this same
quiescent cash all at once mutinying in themthis same cash would
soon cashier Ahab.

Nor was there wanting still another precautionary motive more related
to Ahab personally. Having impulsivelyit is probableand perhaps
somewhat prematurely revealed the prime but private purpose of the
Pequod's voyageAhab was now entirely conscious thatin so doing
he had indirectly laid himself open to the unanswerable charge of
usurpation; and with perfect impunityboth moral and legalhis crew
if so disposedand to that end competentcould refuse all further
obedience to himand even violently wrest from him the command.
From even the barely hinted imputation of usurpationand 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 handbacked by a heedfulclosely calculating attention to
every minute atmospheric influence which it was possible for his crew
to be subjected to.

For all these reasons thenand others perhaps too analytic to be
verbally developed hereAhab plainly saw that he must still in a
good degree continue true to the naturalnominal purpose of the
Pequod's voyage; observe all customary usages; and not only thatbut
force himself to evince all his well known passionate interest in the
general pursuit of his profession.

Be all this as it mayhis voice was now often heard hailing the
three mast-heads and admonishing them to keep a bright look-outand
not omit reporting even a porpoise. This vigilance was not long
without reward.


The Mat-Maker.

It was a cloudysultry afternoon; the seamen were lazily lounging
about the decksor vacantly gazing over into the lead-coloured
waters. Queequeg and I were mildly employed weaving what is called a

sword-matfor an additional lashing to our boat. So still and
subdued and yet somehow preluding was all the sceneand such an
incantation of reverie lurked in the airthat each silent sailor
seemed resolved into his own invisible self.

I was the attendant or page of Queequegwhile busy at the mat. As I
kept passing and repassing the filling or woof of marline between the
long yarns of the warpusing my own hand for the shuttleand as
Queequegstanding sidewaysever and anon slid his heavy oaken sword
between the threadsand idly looking off upon the watercarelessly
and unthinkingly drove home every yarn: I say so strange a
dreaminess did there then reign all over the ship and all over the
seaonly broken by the intermitting dull sound of the swordthat it
seemed as if this were the Loom of Timeand I myself were a shuttle
mechanically weaving and weaving away at the Fates. There lay the
fixed threads of the warp subject to but one singleever returning
unchanging vibrationand that vibration merely enough to admit of
the crosswise interblending of other threads with its own. This warp
seemed necessity; and herethought Iwith my own hand I ply my own
shuttle and weave my own destiny into these unalterable threads.
MeantimeQueequeg's impulsiveindifferent swordsometimes hitting
the woof slantinglyor crookedlyor stronglyor weaklyas 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 swordthought Iwhich thus finally
shapes and fashions both warp and woof; this easyindifferent sword
must be chance--ayechancefree willand necessity--nowise
incompatible--all interweavingly working together. The straight warp
of necessitynot to be swerved from its ultimate course--its every
alternating vibrationindeedonly tending to that; free will still
free to ply her shuttle between given threads; and chancethough
restrained in its play within the right lines of necessityand
sideways in its motions directed by free willthough thus prescribed
to by bothchance by turns rules eitherand has the last featuring
blow at events.

Thus we were weaving and weaving away when I started at a sound so
strangelong drawnand musically wild and unearthlythat the ball
of free will dropped from my handand I stood gazing up at the
clouds whence that voice dropped like a wing. High aloft in the
cross-trees was that mad Gay-HeaderTashtego. His body was reaching
eagerly forwardhis hand stretched out like a wandand at brief
sudden intervals he continued his cries. To be sure the same sound
was that very moment perhaps being heard all over the seasfrom
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 airso wildly and
eagerly peering towards the horizonyou would have thought him some
prophet or seer beholding the shadows of Fateand by those wild
cries announcing their coming.

There she blows! there! there! there! she blows! she blows!


On the lee-beam, about two miles off! a school of them!

Instantly all was commotion.

The Sperm Whale blows as a clock tickswith 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

Quick, steward!cried Ahab. "Time! time!"

Dough-Boy hurried belowglanced at the watchand reported the exact
minute to Ahab.

The ship was now kept away from the windand she went gently rolling
before it. Tashtego reporting that the whales had gone down heading
to leewardwe confidently looked to see them again directly in
advance of our bows. For that singular craft at times evinced by the
Sperm Whale whensounding with his head in one directionhe
neverthelesswhile concealed beneath the surfacemills roundand
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 alarmedor indeed knew
at all of our vicinity. One of the men selected for
shipkeepers--that isthose not appointed to the boatsby this time
relieved the Indian at the main-mast head. The 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 backedand 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 railwhile 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 Ahabwho
was surrounded by five dusky phantoms that seemed fresh formed out of


The First Lowering.

The phantomsfor so they then seemedwere flitting on the other
side of the deckandwith a noiseless celeritywere casting loose
the tackles and bands of the boat which swung there. This boat had
always been deemed one of the spare boatsthough technically called
the captain'son account of its hanging from the starboard quarter.
The figure that now stood by its bows was tall and swartwith one
white tooth evilly protruding from its steel-like lips. A rumpled
Chinese jacket of black cotton funereally invested himwith wide
black trowsers of the same dark stuff. But strangely crowning this
ebonness was a glistening white plaited turbanthe living hair
braided and coiled round and round upon his head. Less swart in
aspectthe 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 deviltheir lord
whose counting-room they suppose to be elsewhere.

While yet the wondering ship's company were gazing upon these
strangersAhab cried out to the white-turbaned old man at their
headAll ready there, Fedallah?

Ready,was the half-hissed reply.

Lower away then; d'ye hear?shouting across the deck. "Lower away
thereI say."

Such was the thunder of his voicethat spite of their amazement the
men sprang over the rail; the sheaves whirled round in the blocks;
with a wallowthe three boats dropped into the sea; whilewith a
dexterousoff-handed daringunknown in any other vocationthe
sailorsgoat-likeleaped down the rolling ship's side into the
tossed boats below.

Hardly had they pulled out from under the ship's leewhen a fourth
keelcoming from the windward sidepulled round under the stern
and showed the five strangers rowing Ahabwhostanding erect in the
sternloudly hailed StarbuckStubband Flaskto spread themselves
widelyso as to cover a large expanse of water. But with all their
eyes again riveted upon the swart Fedallah and his crewthe inmates
of the other boats obeyed not the command.

Captain Ahab?--said Starbuck.

Spread yourselves,cried Ahab; "give wayall four boats. Thou
Flaskpull out more to leeward!"

Aye, aye, sir,cheerily cried little King-Postsweeping 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 yeCabaco? They are stowawaysMr. Flask."

Pull, pull, my fine hearts-alive; pull, my children; pull, my little
ones,drawlingly and soothingly sighed Stubb to his crewsome of
whom still showed signs of uneasiness. "Why don't you break your
backbonesmy 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. Pullthendo pull; never
mind the brimstone--devils are good fellows enough. Soso; 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 oilmy
heroes! Three cheersmen--all hearts alive! Easyeasy; don't be
in a hurry--don't be in a hurry. Why don't you snap your oarsyou
rascals? Bite somethingyou dogs! Sososothen:--softly
softly! That's it--that's it! long and strong. Give way theregive
way! The devil fetch yeye ragamuffin rapscallions; ye are all
asleep. Stop snoringye sleepersand pull. Pullwill ye? pull
can't ye? pullwon't ye? Why in the name of gudgeons and
ginger-cakes don't ye pull?--pull and break something! pulland
start your eyes out! Here!" whipping out the sharp knife from his
girdle; "every mother's son of ye draw his knifeand pull with the
blade between his teeth. That's it--that's it. Now ye do something;
that looks like itmy steel-bits. Start her--start hermy
silver-spoons! Start hermarling-spikes!"

Stubb's exordium to his crew is given here at largebecause he had
rather a peculiar way of talking to them in generaland 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
crewin a tone so strangely compounded of fun and furyand the fury
seemed so calculated merely as a spice to the funthat no oarsman
could hear such queer invocations without pulling for dear lifeand
yet pulling for the mere joke of the thing. Besides he all the time
looked so easy and indolent himselfso loungingly managed his
steering-oarand so broadly gaped--open-mouthed at times--that the
mere sight of such a yawning commanderby sheer force of contrast
acted like a charm upon the crew. Then againStubb was one of those
odd sort of humoristswhose jollity is sometimes so curiously
ambiguousas to put all inferiors on their guard in the matter of
obeying them.

In obedience to a sign from AhabStarbuck was now pulling obliquely
across Stubb's bow; and when for a minute or so the two boats were
pretty near to each otherStubb hailed the mate.

Mr. Starbuck! larboard boat there, ahoy! a word with ye, sir, if ye

Halloa!returned Starbuckturning 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 boardsomehowbefore the ship sailed. (Strongstrong
boys!)" in a whisper to his crewthen speaking out loud again: "A
sad businessMr. Stubb! (seethe herseethe hermy lads!) but never
mindMr. Stubball for the best. Let all your crew pull strong
come what will. (Springmy menspring!) There's hogsheads of sperm
aheadMr. Stubband that's what ye came for. (Pullmy boys!)
Spermsperm's the play! This at least is duty; duty and profit hand
in hand."

Aye, aye, I thought as much,soliloquized Stubbwhen the boats
divergedas 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 deckthis 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 themthough indeed not credited thenthis
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 appearancethey 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 silently recalled the mysterious shadows I had seen creeping on
board the Pequod during the dim Nantucket dawnas well as the
enigmatical hintings of the unaccountable Elijah.

MeantimeAhabout of hearing of his officershaving sided the
furthest to windwardwas 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
strengthwhich periodically started the boat along the water like a
horizontal burst boiler out of a Mississippi steamer. As for

Fedallahwho was seen pulling the harpooneer oarhe had thrown
aside his black jacketand displayed his naked chest with the whole
part of his body above the gunwaleclearly cut against the
alternating depressions of the watery horizon; while at the other end
of the boat Ahabwith one armlike a fencer'sthrown half backward
into the airas 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 the sea. Instantly the three spread boats in
the rear paused on their way. The whales had irregularly settled
bodily down into the bluethus giving no distantly discernible token
of the movementthough from his closer vicinity Ahab had observed

Every man look out along his oars!cried Starbuck. "Thou
Queequegstand up!"

Nimbly springing up on the triangular raised box in the bowthe
savage stood erect thereand 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 gunwaleStarbuck himself was seen coolly
and adroitly balancing himself to the jerking tossings of his chip of
a craftand 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 loggerheada
stout sort of post rooted in the keeland 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 handand standing upon such a base as thatFlask seemed
perched at the mast-head of some ship which had sunk to all but her
trucks. But little King-Post was small and shortand at the same
time little King-Post was full of a large and tall ambitionso 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

Upon thisDaggoowith either hand upon the gunwale to steady his
wayswiftly slid aftand 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
boatthe gigantic negrostooping a littlepresented his flat palm
to Flask's footand then putting Flask's hand on his hearse-plumed
head and bidding him spring as he himself should tosswith one
dexterous fling landed the little man high and dry on his shoulders.
And here was Flask now standingDaggoo with one lifted arm
furnishing him with a breastband to lean against and steady himself

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 boateven when pitched about by the most
riotously perverse and cross-running seas. Still more strange to see
him giddily perched upon the loggerhead itselfunder such

circumstances. But the sight of little Flask mounted upon gigantic
Daggoo was yet more curious; for sustaining himself with a cool
indifferenteasyunthought ofbarbaric majestythe noble negro to
every roll of the sea harmoniously rolled his fine form. On his
broad backflaxen-haired Flask seemed a snow-flake. The bearer
looked nobler than the rider. Though truly vivacioustumultuous
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 earthbut the earth did not alter her tides and her
seasons for that.

Meanwhile Stubbthe third matebetrayed no such far-gazing
solicitudes. The whales might have made one of their regular
soundingsnot a temporary dive from mere fright; and if that were
the caseStubbas his wont in such casesit seemswas resolved to
solace the languishing interval with his pipe. He withdrew it from
his hatbandwhere he always wore it aslant like a feather. He
loaded itand rammed home the loading with his thumb-end; but hardly
had he ignited his match across the rough sandpaper of his hand
when Tashtegohis harpooneerwhose eyes had been setting to
windward like two fixed starssuddenly dropped like light from his
erect attitude to his seatcrying out in a quick phrensy of hurry
Down, down all, and give way!--there they are!

To a landsmanno whalenor any sign of a herringwould have been
visible at that moment; nothing but a troubled bit of greenish white
waterand thin scattered puffs of vapour hovering over itand
suffusingly blowing off to leewardlike the confused scud from white
rolling billows. The air around suddenly vibrated and tingledas it
werelike the air over intensely heated plates of iron. Beneath
this atmospheric waving and curlingand partially beneath a thin
layer of wateralsothe whales were swimming. Seen in advance of
all the other indicationsthe puffs of vapour they spoutedseemed
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

Pull, pull, my good boys,said Starbuckin the lowest possible but
intensest concentrated whisper to his men; while the sharp fixed
glance from his eyes darted straight ahead of the bowalmost seemed
as two visible needles in two unerring binnacle compasses. He did
not say much to his crewthoughnor did his crew say anything to
him. Only the silence of the boat was at intervals startlingly
pierced by one of his peculiar whispersnow harsh with commandnow
soft with entreaty.

How different the loud little King-Post. "Sing out and say
somethingmy hearties. Roar and pullmy thunderbolts! Beach me
beach me on their black backsboys; only do that for meand I'll
sign over to you my Martha's Vineyard plantationboys; including
wife and childrenboys. Lay me on--lay me on! O LordLord! but I
shall go starkstaring mad! See! see that white water!" And so
shoutinghe pulled his hat from his headand stamped up and down on
it; then picking it upflirted 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 Stubbwhowith his
unlighted short pipemechanically retained between his teethat a
short distancefollowed after--"He's got fitsthat Flask has.

Fits? yesgive him fits--that's the very word--pitch fits into 'em.
Merrilymerrilyhearts-alive. Pudding for supperyou
know;--merry's the word. Pullbabes--pullsucklings--pullall.
But what the devil are you hurrying about? Softlysoftlyand
steadilymy men. Only pulland keep pulling; nothing more. Crack
all your backbonesand bite your knives in two--that's all. Take it
easy--why don't ye take it easyI sayand burst all your livers and

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 wordswhenwith tornado
browand eyes of red murderand foam-glued lipsAhab leaped after
his prey.

Meanwhileall 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 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 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

Soon we were running through a suffusing wide veil of mist; neither
ship nor boat to be seen.

Give waymen 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 aftertwo 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 Queequegharpoon in handsprang to his feet.

Though not one of the oarsmen was then facing the life and death
peril so close to them aheadyet with their eyes on the intense
countenance of the mate in the stern of the boatthey knew that the
imminent instant had come; they heardtooan enormous wallowing
sound as of fifty elephants stirring in their litter. Meanwhile the
boat was still booming through the mistthe 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 asternwhile 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. Squallwhaleand
harpoon had all blended together; and the whalemerely grazed by the

Though completely swampedthe boat was nearly unharmed. Swimming
round it we picked up the floating oarsand lashing them across the
gunwaletumbled back to our places. There we sat up to our knees in
the seathe water covering every rib and plankso that to our
downward gazing eyes the suspended craft seemed a coral boat grown up
to us from the bottom of the ocean.

The wind increased to a howl; the waves dashed their bucklers
together; the whole squall roaredforkedand crackled around us
like a white fire upon the prairiein whichunconsumedwe 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 scudrackand mistgrew 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. Socutting the
lashing of the waterproof match kegafter many failures Starbuck
contrived to ignite the lamp in the lantern; then stretching it on a
waif polehanded it to Queequeg as the standard-bearer of this
forlorn hope. Therethenhe satholding up that imbecile candle
in the heart of that almighty forlornness. Therethenhe satthe
sign and symbol of a man without faithhopelessly holding up hope in
the midst of despair.

Wetdrenched throughand shivering colddespairing of ship or
boatwe lifted up our eyes as the dawn came on. The mist still
spread over the seathe empty lantern lay crushed in the bottom of
the boat. Suddenly Queequeg started to his feethollowing his hand
to his ear. We all heard a faint creakingas of ropes and yards
hitherto muffled by the storm. The sound came nearer and nearer; the
thick mists were dimly parted by a hugevague form. Affrightedwe
all sprang into the sea as the ship at last loomed into viewbearing
right down upon us within a distance of not much more than its

Floating on the waves we saw the abandoned boatas 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 itand it was seen
no more till it came up weltering astern. Again we swam for itwere
dashed against it by the seasand were at last taken up and safely
landed on board. Ere the squall came close tothe other boats had
cut loose from their fish and returned to the ship in good time. The
ship had given us upbut was still cruisingif haply it might light
upon some token of our perishing--an oar or a lance pole.


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 jokethough the wit thereof he but dimly discernsand
more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.
Howevernothing dispiritsand nothing seems worth while disputing.
He bolts down all eventsall creedsand beliefsand persuasions
all hard things visible and invisiblenever mind how knobby; as an
ostrich of potent digestion gobbles down bullets and gun flints. And
as for small difficulties and worryingsprospects of sudden
disasterperil of life and limb; all theseand death itselfseem
to him only slygood-natured hitsand jolly punches in the side
bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable old joker. That odd sort of
wayward mood I am speaking ofcomes 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
momentousnow seems but a part of the general joke. There is
nothing like the perils of whaling to breed this free and easy sort
of genialdesperado philosophy; and with it I now regarded this
whole voyage of the Pequodand the great White Whale its object.

Queequeg,said Iwhen they had dragged methe last manto the
deckand I was still shaking myself in my jacket to fling off the
water; "Queequegmy fine frienddoes this sort of thing often
happen?" Without much emotionthough soaked through just like me
he gave me to understand that such things did often happen.

Mr. Stubb,said Iturning to that worthywhobuttoned up in his
oil-jacketwas now calmly smoking his pipe in the rain; "Mr. Stubb
I think I have heard you say that of all whalemen you ever metour
chief mateMr. Starbuckis by far the most careful and prudent. I
suppose thenthat 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 Iturning to little King-Postwho was standing
close by; "you are experienced in these thingsand I am not. Will
you tell me whether it is an unalterable law in this fisheryMr.
Flaskfor an oarsman to break his own back pulling himself
back-foremost into death's jaws?"

Can't you twist that smaller?said Flask. "Yesthat's the law. I
should like to see a boat's crew backing water up to a whale face
foremost. Haha! the whale would give them squint for squintmind

Here thenfrom three impartial witnessesI had a deliberate
statement of the entire case. Consideringthereforethat 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 squalland considering that
Starbucknotwithstandingwas 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 implicatedtouching the White Whale: taking all things together
I sayI thought I might as well go below and make a rough draft of
my will. "Queequeg said I, come alongyou shall be my lawyer
executorand legatee."

It may seem strange that of all men sailors should be tinkering at
their last wills and testamentsbut 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 occasionI felt all the easier; a stone
was rolled away from my heart. Besidesall 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 thenthought Iunconsciously rolling up the sleeves of my
frockhere goes for a coolcollected dive at death and destruction
and the devil fetch the hindmost.


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 boatunless 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 hipnowit would be a different
thing. That would disable him; but he has one kneeand good part of
the other leftyou know."

I don't know that, my little man; I never yet saw him kneel.

Among whale-wise people it has often been argued whetherconsidering
the paramount importance of his life to the success of the voyageit
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 eyeswhether 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 whales is always under great
and extraordinary difficulties; that every individual momentindeed

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 chasefor the sake of being near the scene of action and
giving his orders in personyet 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 menas that same
boat's crewhe 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 themnor 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 discoverythe
sailors had little foreseen itthough to be sure whenafter being a
little while out of portall 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 the matter of
making thole-pins with his own hands for what was thought to be one
of the spare boatsand even solicitously cutting the small wooden
skewerswhich when the line is running out are pinned over the
groove in the bow: when all this was observed in himand
particularly his solicitude in having an extra coat of sheathing in
the bottom of the boatas if to make it better withstand the pointed
pressure of his ivory limb; and also the anxiety he evinced in
exactly shaping the thigh boardor clumsy cleatas it is sometimes
calledthe 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 cleatand with the carpenter's
chisel gouged out a little here and straightened it a little there;
all these thingsI sayhad 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.

Nowwith the subordinate phantomswhat wonder remained soon waned
away; for in a whaler wonders soon wane. Besidesnow 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 planksbits
of wreckoarswhaleboatscanoesblown-off Japanese junksand
what not; that Beelzebub himself might climb up the side and step
down into the cabin to chat with the captainand it would not create
any unsubduable excitement in the forecastle.

But be all this as it maycertain it is that while the subordinate
phantoms soon found their place among the crewthough still as it
were somehow distinct from themyet that hair-turbaned Fedallah
remained a muffled mystery to the last. Whence he came in a mannerly
world like thisby what sort of unaccountable tie he soon evinced
himself to be linked with Ahab's peculiar fortunes; nayso far as to
have some sort of a half-hinted influence; Heaven knowsbut 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 civilizeddomestic people in the temperate zone only see
in their dreamsand that but dimly; but the like of whom now and
then glide among the unchanging Asiatic communitiesespecially the
Oriental isles to the east of the continent--those insulated

immemorialunalterable countrieswhich even in these modern days
still preserve much of the ghostly aboriginalness of earth's primal
generationswhen the memory of the first man was a distinct
recollectionand all men his descendantsunknowing whence he came
eyed each other as real phantomsand asked of the sun and the moon
why they were created and to what end; when thoughaccording to
Genesisthe angels indeed consorted with the daughters of menthe
devils alsoadd the uncanonical Rabbinsindulged in mundane amours.


The Spirit-Spout.

Daysweeks passedand under easy sailthe 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 Groundan unstakedwatery
localitysoutherly from St. Helena.

It was while gliding through these latter waters that one serene and
moonlight nightwhen all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver;
andby their softsuffusing seethingsmade what seemed a silvery
silencenot 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
moonit looked celestial; seemed some plumed and glittering god
uprising from the sea. Fedallah first descried this jet. For of
these moonlight nightsit was his wont to mount to the main-mast
headand stand a look-out therewith the same precision as if it
had been day. And yetthough herds of whales were seen by night
not one whaleman in a hundred would venture a lowering for them. You
may think with what emotionsthenthe seamen beheld this old
Oriental perched aloft at such unusual hours; his turban and the
mooncompanions in one sky. But whenafter spending his uniform
interval there for several successive nights without uttering a
single sound; whenafter all this silencehis unearthly voice was
heard announcing that silverymoon-lit jetevery reclining mariner
started to his feet as if some winged spirit had lighted in the
riggingand hailed the mortal crew. "There she blows!" Had the
trump of judgment blownthey could not have quivered more; yet still
they felt no terror; rather pleasure. For though it was a most
unwonted houryet so impressive was the cryand so deliriously
excitingthat almost every soul on board instinctively desired a

Walking the deck with quickside-lunging stridesAhab commanded the
t'gallant sails and royals to be setand every stunsail spread. The
best man in the ship must take the helm. Thenwith every mast-head
mannedthe piled-up craft rolled down before the wind. The strange
upheavinglifting tendency of the taffrail breeze filling the
hollows of so many sailsmade the buoyanthovering deck to feel
like air beneath the feet; while still she rushed alongas if two
antagonistic influences were struggling in her--one to mount direct
to heaventhe other to drive yawingly to some horizontal goal. And
had you watched Ahab's face that nightyou would have thought that
in him also two different things were warring. While his one live
leg made lively echoes along the deckevery stroke of his dead limb
sounded like a coffin-tap. On life and death this old man walked.
But though the ship so swiftly spedand though from every eyelike
arrowsthe eager glances shotyet the silvery jet was no more seen
that night. Every sailor swore he saw it oncebut not a second

This midnight-spout had almost grown a forgotten thingwhensome
days afterlo! at the same silent hourit 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 nighttill no one heeded it but to wonder at it.
Mysteriously jetted into the clear moonlightor starlightas the
case might be; disappearing again for one whole dayor two daysor
three; and somehow seeming at every distinct repetition to be
advancing still further and further in our vanthis solitary jet
seemed for ever alluring us on.

Nor with the immemorial superstition of their raceand in accordance
with the preternaturalnessas it seemedwhich in many things
invested the Pequodwere there wanting some of the seamen who swore
that whenever and wherever descried; at however remote timesor in
however far apart latitudes and longitudesthat unnearable spout was
cast by one self-same whale; and that whaleMoby Dick. For a time
there reignedtooa sense of peculiar dread at this flitting
apparitionas if it were treacherously beckoning us on and onin
order that the monster might turn round upon usand rend us at last
in the remotest and most savage seas.

These temporary apprehensionsso vague but so awfulderived a
wondrous potency from the contrasting serenity of the weatherin
whichbeneath all its blue blandnesssome thought there lurked a
devilish charmas for days and days we voyaged alongthrough seas
so wearilylonesomely mildthat all spacein repugnance to our
vengeful errandseemed vacating itself of life before our urn-like

Butat lastwhen turning to the eastwardthe Cape winds began
howling around usand we rose and fell upon the longtroubled seas
that are there; when the ivory-tusked Pequod sharply bowed to the
blastand gored the dark waves in her madnesstilllike showers of
silver chipsthe foam-flakes flew over her bulwarks; then all this
desolate vacuity of life went awaybut gave place to sights more
dismal than before.

Close to our bowsstrange forms in the water darted hither and
thither before us; while thick in our rear flew the inscrutable
sea-ravens. And every morningperched on our staysrows of these
birds were seen; and spite of our hootingsfor a long time
obstinately clung to the hempas though they deemed our ship some
driftinguninhabited craft; a thing appointed to desolationand
therefore fit roosting-place for their homeless selves. And heaved
and heavedstill unrestingly heaved the black seaas 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 Hopedo they call ye? Rather Cape Tormentotoas
called of yore; for long allured by the perfidious silences that
before had attended uswe found ourselves launched into this
tormented seawhere guilty beings transformed into those fowls and
these fishseemed condemned to swim on everlastingly without any
haven in storeor beat that black air without any horizon. But
calmsnow-whiteand unvarying; still directing its fountain of
feathers to the sky; still beckoning us on from beforethe solitary
jet would at times be descried.

During all this blackness of the elementsAhabthough assuming for
the time the almost continual command of the drenched and dangerous
deckmanifested the gloomiest reserve; and more seldom than ever
addressed his mates. In tempestuous times like theseafter

everything above and aloft has been securednothing more can be done
but passively to await the issue of the gale. Then Captain and crew
become practical fatalists. Sowith his ivory leg inserted into its
accustomed holeand with one hand firmly grasping a shroudAhab for
hours and hours would stand gazing dead to windwardwhile an
occasional squall of sleet or snow would all but congeal his very
eyelashes together. Meantimethe 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 waveseach man had slipped himself into a
sort of bowline secured to the railin which he swung as in a
loosened belt. Few or no words were spoken; and the silent shipas
if manned by painted sailors in waxday 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 hammock.
Never could Starbuck forget the old man's aspectwhen one night
going down into the cabin to mark how the barometer stoodhe 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 emergedstill 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 erectthe
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-talebecause without going to
the compass at the helmthe Captainwhile belowcan inform himself
of the course of the ship.

Terrible old man! thought Starbuck with a shuddersleeping in this
galestill thou steadfastly eyest thy purpose.


The Albatross.

South-eastward from the Capeoff the distant Crozettsa good
cruising ground for Right Whalemena sail loomed aheadthe Goney
(Albatross) by name. As she slowly drew nighfrom my lofty perch at
the fore-mast-headI had a good view of that sight so remarkable to
a tyro in the far ocean fisheries--a whaler at seaand long absent
from home.

As if the waves had been fullersthis craft was bleached like the
skeleton of a stranded walrus. All down her sidesthis spectral
appearance was traced with long channels of reddened rustwhile 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 beastsso torn and
bepatched the raiment that had survived nearly four years of
cruising. Standing in iron hoops nailed to the mastthey swayed and
swung over a fathomless sea; and thoughwhen the ship slowly glided
close under our sternwe six men in the air came so nigh to each
other that we might almost have leaped from the mast-heads of one

ship to those of the other; yetthose forlorn-looking fishermen
mildly eyeing us as they passedsaid not one word to our own
look-outswhile the quarter-deck hail was being heard from below.

Ship ahoy! Have ye seen the White Whale?

But as the strange captainleaning over the pallid bulwarkswas in
the act of putting his trumpet to his mouthit somehow fell from his
hand into the sea; and the wind now rising amainhe 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 shipAhab for a moment paused; it almost seemed as though
he would have lowered a boat to board the strangerhad not the
threatening wind forbade. But taking advantage of his windward
positionhe again seized his trumpetand knowing by her aspect that
the stranger vessel was a Nantucketer and shortly bound homehe
loudly hailed--"Ahoy there! This is the Pequodbound round the
world! Tell them to address all future letters to the Pacific ocean!
and this time three yearsif I am not at hometell them to address
them to--"

At that moment the two wakes were fairly crossedand instantly
thenin accordance with their singular waysshoals of small
harmless fishthat for some days before had been placidly swimming
by our sidedarted away with what seemed shuddering finsand 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 sightyetto any monomaniac manthe veriest trifles
capriciously carry meanings.

Swim away from me, do ye?murmured Ahabgazing over into the
water. There seemed but little in the wordsbut the tone conveyed
more of deep helpless sadness than the insane old man had ever before
evinced. But turning to the steersmanwho thus far had been holding
the ship in the wind to diminish her headwayhe 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 startedwhere
those that we left behind securewere all the time before us.

Were this world an endless plainand by sailing eastward we could
for ever reach new distancesand discover sights more sweet and
strange than any Cyclades or Islands of King Solomonthen there were
promise in the voyage. But in pursuit of those far mysteries we
dream ofor in tormented chase of that demon phantom thatsome time
or otherswims before all human hearts; while chasing such over this
round globethey either lead us on in barren mazes or midway leave
us whelmed.


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 casehe would not after allperhapshave boarded
her--judging by his subsequent conduct on similar occasions--if so it

had been thatby the process of hailinghe had obtained a negative
answer to the question he put. Foras it eventually turned outhe
cared not to consorteven for five minuteswith any stranger
captainexcept he could contribute some of that information he so
absorbingly sought. But all this might remain inadequately
estimatedwere not something said here of the peculiar usages of
whaling-vessels when meeting each other in foreign seasand
especially on a common cruising-ground.

If two strangers crossing the Pine Barrens in New York Stateor the
equally desolate Salisbury Plain in England; if casually encountering
each other in such inhospitable wildsthese twainfor the life of
themcannot well avoid a mutual salutation; and stopping for a
moment to interchange the news; andperhapssitting down for a
while and resting in concert: thenhow much more natural that upon
the illimitable Pine Barrens and Salisbury Plains of the seatwo
whaling vessels descrying each other at the ends of the earth--off
lone Fanning's Islandor the far away King's Mills; how much more
naturalI saythat under such circumstances these ships should not
only interchange hailsbut come into still closermore friendly and
sociable contact. And especially would this seem to be a matter of
coursein the case of vessels owned in one seaportand whose
captainsofficersand not a few of the men are personally known to
each other; and consequentlyhave all sorts of dear domestic things
to talk about.

For the long absent shipthe outward-bounderperhapshas letters
on board; at any rateshe 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 courtesythe outward-bound
ship would receive the latest whaling intelligence from the
cruising-ground to which she may be destineda thing of the utmost
importance to her. And in degreeall this will hold true concerning
whaling vessels crossing each other's track on the cruising-ground
itselfeven though they are equally long absent from home. For one
of them may have received a transfer of letters from some thirdand
now far remote vessel; and some of those letters may be for the
people of the ship she now meets. Besidesthey would exchange the
whaling newsand have an agreeable chat. For not only would they
meet with all the sympathies of sailorsbut 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 isso long as both parties speak one languageas is the case
with Americans and English. Thoughto be surefrom the small
number of English whalerssuch meetings do not very often occurand
when they do occur there is too apt to be a sort of shyness between
them; for your Englishman is rather reservedand your Yankeehe
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 longlean
Nantucketerwith his nondescript provincialismsas a sort of
sea-peasant. But where this superiority in the English whalemen
does really consistit would be hard to sayseeing that the Yankees
in one daycollectivelykill more whales than all the English
collectivelyin ten years. But this is a harmless little foible in
the English whale-hunterswhich the Nantucketer does not take much
to heart; probablybecause he knows that he has a few foibles

Sothenwe see that of all ships separately sailing the seathe
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
recognitionmutually cutting each other on the high seaslike a
brace of dandies in Broadway; and all the time indulgingperhapsin
finical criticism upon each other's rig. As for Men-of-Warwhen
they chance to meet at seathey first go through such a string of
silly bowings and scrapingssuch a ducking of ensignsthat there
does not seem to be much right-down hearty good-will and brotherly
love about it at all. As touching Slave-ships meetingwhythey are
in such a prodigious hurrythey run away from each other as soon as
possible. And as for Pirateswhen they chance to cross each other's
cross-bonesthe first hail is--"How many skulls?"--the same way that
whalers hail--"How many barrels?" And that question once answered
pirates straightway steer apartfor they are infernal villains on
both sidesand don't like to see overmuch of each other's villanous

But look at the godlyhonestunostentatioushospitablesociable
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, 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.


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 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,
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


The Town-Ho's Story.


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 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

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 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 yougentlementhe Town-HoSperm Whaler of
Nantucketwas cruising in your Pacific herenot 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 pumpsaccording to daily usageit was observed that she made
more water in her hold than common. They supposed a sword-fish had
stabbed hergentlemen. But the captainhaving some unusual reason
for believing that rare good luck awaited him in those latitudes; and
therefore being very averse to quit themand the leak not being then
considered at all dangerousthoughindeedthey could not find it
after searching the hold as low down as was possible in rather heavy
weatherthe ship still continued her cruisingsthe mariners working
at the pumps at wide and easy intervals; but no good luck came; more
days went byand not only was the leak yet undiscoveredbut it
sensibly increased. So much sothat now taking some alarmthe
captainmaking all sailstood away for the nearest harbor among the
islandsthere to have his hull hove out and repaired.

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! Praywhat is a Lakemanand where is Buffalo?'
said Don Sebastianrising 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 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 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 haventhat the Town-Ho's leak seemed again
increasingbut only so as to require an hour or more at the pumps
every day. You must know that in a settled and civilized ocean like
our Atlanticfor examplesome skippers think little of pumping
their whole way across it; though of a stillsleepy nightshould
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 iton account of all hands gently subsiding to the bottom.
Nor in the solitary and savage seas far from you to the westward
gentlemenis it altogether unusual for ships to keep clanging at
their pump-handles in full chorus even for a voyage of considerable
length; that isif it lie along a tolerably accessible coastor 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 latitudethat 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 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

Nowas you well knowit 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 manhoodstraightway
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 towerand make a little heap of dust of it. Be
this conceit of mine as it maygentlemenat all events Steelkilt
was a tall and noble animal with a head like a Romanand a flowing
golden beard like the tasseled housings of your last viceroy's
snorting charger; and a brainand a heartand a soul in him
gentlemenwhich had made Steelkilt Charlemagnehad he been born son
to Charlemagne's father. But Radneythe matewas ugly as a mule;
yet as hardyas stubbornas 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.

'Ayeayemy merry ladsit's a lively leak this; hold a cannikin
one of yeand let's have a taste. By the Lordit's worth bottling!
I tell ye whatmenold Rad's investment must go for it! he had
best cut away his part of the hull and tow it home. The fact is
boysthat sword-fish only began the job; he's come back again with a
gang of ship-carpenterssaw-fishand file-fishand what not; and
the whole posse of 'em are now hard at work cutting and slashing at
the bottom; making improvementsI suppose. If old Rad were here
nowI'd tell him to jump overboard and scatter 'em. They're playing
the devil with his estateI can tell him. But he's a simple old
soul--Radand a beauty too. Boysthey 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.'

'Damn your eyes! what's that pump stopping for?' roared Radney,
pretending not to have heard the sailors' talk. 'Thunder away at

'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 lastwith the rest of his bandthe Lakeman
went forward all pantingand sat himself down on the windlass; his
face fiery redhis eyes bloodshotand wiping the profuse sweat from
his brow. Now what cozening fiend it wasgentlementhat possessed
Radney to meddle with such a man in that corporeally exasperated
stateI know not; but so it happened. Intolerably striding along
the deckthe mate commanded him to get a broom and sweep down the
planksand also a shoveland 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-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 Steelkiltas 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 morethe Lakeman
fully comprehended when the mate uttered his command. But as he sat
still for a momentand 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 thisthat strange forbearance and
unwillingness to stir up the deeper passionateness in any already
ireful being--a repugnance most feltwhen felt at allby really
valiant men even when aggrieved--this nameless phantom feeling
gentlemenstole 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 himwithout speaking he
remained doggedly rooted to his seattill at last the incensed
Radney shook the hammer within a few inches of his facefuriously
commanding him to do his bidding.

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. RadneyI will not obey you. Take that hammer awayor look to
yourself.' But the predestinated mate coming still closer to him
where the Lakeman stood fixednow 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
Steelkiltclenching his right hand behind him and creepingly drawing
it backtold his persecutor that if the hammer but grazed his cheek
he (Steelkilt) would murder him. Butgentlementhe fool had been
branded for the slaughter by the gods. Immediately the hammer
touched the cheek; the next instant the lower jaw 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
harboursbut never heard of your Canallers. Pardon: who and what are

'Canallers, Don, are the boatmen belonging to our grand Erie Canal.
You must have heard of it.'

'NaySenor; hereabouts in this dullwarmmost lazyand
hereditary landwe 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 milesgentlementhrough the entire
breadth of the state of New York; through numerous populous cities
and most thriving villages; through longdismaluninhabited swamps
and affluentcultivated fieldsunrivalled for fertility; by
billiard-room and bar-room; through the holy-of-holies of great
forests; 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 especiallyby rows of snow-white
chapelswhose spires stand almost like milestonesflows one
continual stream of Venetianly corrupt and often lawless life.
There's your true Ashanteegentlemen; there howl your pagans; where
you ever find themnext door to you; under the long-flung shadow
and the snug patronising lee of churches. For by some curious
fatalityas it is often noted of your metropolitan freebooters that
they ever encamp around the halls of justiceso sinnersgentlemen
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 friendDame Isabella's Inquisition wanes in
Lima' laughed Don Sebastian. 'ProceedSenor.'

'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 surprised; you know the proverb all along this
coast--Corrupt as Lima." It but bears out your sayingtoo;
churches more plentiful than billiard-tablesand for ever open--and
Corrupt as Lima.SotooVenice; I have been there; the holy city
of the blessed evangelistSt. Mark!--St. Dominicpurge it! Your
cup! Thanks: here I refill; nowyou 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,

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 Pedrospilling his
chicha upon his silvery ruffles. 'No need to travel! The world's
one Lima. I had thoughtnowthat 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 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 thatye pirates!' roared the captainnow menacing
them with a pistol in each handjust brought to him by the steward.
'Come out of thatye 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 usif we do?' demanded their

'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. 'Ayelet her sink. Not a man of
us turns tounless you swear not to raise a rope-yarn against us.
What say yemen?' turning to his comrades. A fierce cheer was their

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 promisesturn toI 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 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

'Down into the forecastle thendown with yeI'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 planksthe
Captain and his posse leaped the barricadeand rapidly drawing over
the slide of the scuttleplanted their group of hands upon itand
loudly called for the steward to bring the heavy brass padlock
belonging to the companionway.

Then opening the slide a littlethe Captain whispered something down
the crackclosed itand turned the key upon them--ten in
number--leaving on deck some twenty or morewho 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 forwardand knocking on the deck
summoned the prisoners to work; but with a yell they refused. Water
was then lowered down to themand a couple of handfuls of biscuit
were tossed after it; when again turning the key upon them and
pocketing itthe Captain returned to the quarter-deck. Twice every
day for three days this was repeated; but on the fourth morning a
confused wranglingand then a scuffling was heardas the customary
summons was delivered; and suddenly four men burst up from the
forecastlesaying they were ready to turn to. The fetid closeness
of the airand a famishing dietunited perhaps to some fears of
ultimate retributionhad constrained them to surrender at
discretion. Emboldened by thisthe Captain reiterated his demand to
the restbut 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

'Better turn to, now?' said the Captain with a heartless jeer.

'Shut us up againwill ye!' cried Steelkilt.

'Oh certainly,' the Captain, and the key clicked.

It was at this pointgentlementhat enraged by the defection of
seven of his former associatesand stung by the mocking voice that
had last hailed himand maddened by his long entombment in a place
as black as the bowels of despair; it was then that Steelkilt
proposed to the two Canallersthus far apparently of one mind with
himto burst out of their hole at the next summoning of the
garrison; and armed with their keen mincing knives (longcrescentic
heavy implements with a handle at each end) run amuck from the
bowsprit to the taffrail; and if by any devilishness of desperation
possibleseize the ship. For himselfhe would do thishe 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
of the other two; they swore they were ready for thator for any
other mad thingfor anything in short but a surrender. And what was
morethey each insisted upon being the first man on deckwhen the
time to make the rush should come. But to this their leader as
fiercely objectedreserving that priority for himself; particularly
as his two comrades would not yieldthe one to the otherin the
matter; and both of them could not be firstfor the ladder would but
admit one man at a time. And heregentlementhe 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 gagged him with cords; and shrieked out for the Captain at

Thinking murder at handand smelling in the dark for the bloodhe
and all his armed mates and harpooneers rushed for the forecastle.
In a few minutes the scuttle was openedandbound hand and foot
the still struggling ringleader was shoved up into the air by his
perfidious allieswho at once claimed the honour of securing a man
who had been fully ripe for murder. But all these were collaredand
dragged along the deck like dead cattle; andside by sidewere
seized up into the mizzen rigginglike three quarters of meatand
there they hung till morning. 'Damn ye' cried the Captainpacing
to and fro before them'the vultures would not touch yeye

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 youye carrion rogues' turning to the three men in the
rigging--'for youI mean to mince ye up for the try-pots;' and
seizing a ropehe applied it with all his might to the backs of the

two traitorstill they yelled no morebut lifelessly hung their
heads sidewaysas 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 jawsand then painfully twisting round his headsaid 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 somethinginaudible to all but the
Captain; whoto the amazement of all handsstarted backpaced the
deck rapidly two or three timesand then suddenly throwing down his
ropesaid'I won't do it--let him go--cut him down: d'ye hear?'

But as the junior mates were hurrying to execute the ordera pale
manwith a bandaged headarrested them--Radney the chief mate.
Ever since the blowhe had lain in his berth; but that morning
hearing the tumult on the deckhe had crept outand thus far had
watched the whole scene. Such was the state of his mouththat he
could hardly speak; but mumbling something about his being willing
and able to do what the captain dared not attempthe snatched the
rope and advanced to his pinioned foe.

'You are a coward!' hissed the Lakeman.

'So I ambut take that.' The mate was in the very act of striking
when another hiss stayed his uplifted arm. He paused: and then
pausing no moremade good his wordspite of Steelkilt's threat
whatever that might have been. The three men were then cut downall
hands were turned toandsullenly worked by the moody seamenthe
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 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 conducthe 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 doomafter the scene at the
rigginghe insistedagainst the express counsel of the captain
upon resuming the head of his watch at night. Upon thisand one or
two other circumstancesSteelkilt systematically built the plan of
his revenge.

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 oneseems to me.'

'Yesrather oddish' said the Lakemanholding it at arm's length
before him; 'but I think it will answer. ShipmateI 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.

'Why not? Do you think he won't do me a turnwhen it's to help
himself in the endshipmate?' and going to the matehe looked at
him quietlyand 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 ballclosely nettedpartly rolled from the
pocket of the Lakeman's monkey jacketas he was tucking the coat
into his hammock for a pillow. Twenty-four hours afterhis 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 Steelkiltthe mate was
already stark and stretched as a corpsewith his forehead crushed

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 daywhen they were washing down the decksthat a stupid
Teneriffe mandrawing water in the main-chainsall at once shouted
out'There she rolls! there she rolls!' Jesuwhat 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 whiteand famousand most deadly immortal monster

Don;--but that would be too long a story.'

'How? how?' cried all the young Spaniards, crowding.

'NayDonsDons--naynay! I cannot rehearse that now. Let me get
more into the airSirs.'

'The chicha! the chicha!' cried Don Pedro; 'our vigorous friend looks
faint;--fill up his empty glass!'

No needgentlemen; one momentand I proceed.--Nowgentlemenso
suddenly perceiving the snowy whale within fifty yards of the
ship--forgetful of the compact among the crew--in the excitement of
the momentthe Teneriffe man had instinctively and involuntarily
lifted his voice for the monsterthough 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
captainmatesand harpooneerswhoundeterred by fearful rumours
were all anxious to capture so famous and precious a fish; while the
dogged crew eyed askanceand with cursesthe appalling beauty of
the vast milky massthat lit up by a horizontal spangling sun
shifted and glistened like a living opal in the blue morning sea.
Gentlemena strange fatality pervades the whole career of these
eventsas if verily mapped out before the world itself was charted.
The mutineer was the bowsman of the mateand when fast to a fishit
was his duty to sit next himwhile Radney stood up with his lance in
the prowand haul in or slacken the lineat the word of command.
Moreoverwhen the four boats were loweredthe mate's got the start;
and none howled more fiercely with delight than did Steelkiltas he
strained at his oar. After a stiff pulltheir harpooneer got fast
andspear in handRadney sprang to the bow. He was always a
furious manit seemsin a boat. And now his bandaged cry wasto
beach him on the whale's topmost back. Nothing loathhis bowsman
hauled him up and upthrough a blinding foam that blent two
whitenesses together; till of a sudden the boat struck as against a
sunken ledgeand keeling overspilled out the standing mate. That
instantas he fell on the whale's slippery backthe boat righted
and was dashed aside by the swellwhile Radney was tossed over into
the seaon the other flank of the whale. He struck out through the
sprayandfor an instantwas dimly seen through that veilwildly
seeking to 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 himplunged headlong againand went

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 timethe Town-Ho reached her port--a savagesolitary
place--where no civilized creature resided. Thereheaded by the
Lakemanall but five or six of the foremastmen deliberately
deserted among the palms; eventuallyas it turned outseizing a
large double war-canoe of the savagesand 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 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 saila large canoe was descriedwhich
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 toor he would run him under water.
The captain presented a pistol. With one foot on each prow of the
yoked war-canoesthe Lakeman laughed him to scorn; assuring him that
if the pistol so much as clicked in the lockhe would bury him in
bubbles and foam.

'What do you want of me?' cried the captain.

'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 canoeswam 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

'A pretty scholar' laughed the Lakeman. 'AdiosSenor!' and
leaping into the seahe 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

Some ten days after the French ships sailedthe whale-boat arrived
and the captain was forced to enlist some of the more civilized
Tahitianswho had been somewhat used to the sea. Chartering a small
native schoonerhe returned with them to his vessel; and finding all
right thereagain 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 Sebastianquietly.

'I am, Don.'

'Then I entreat youtell 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

'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.'

'Will you be so good as to bring the priest alsoDon?'

'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 youDon Sebastian; but may I also beg
that you will be particular in procuring the largest sized
Evangelists you can.'

'This is the priesthe brings you the Evangelists' said Don
Sebastiangravelyreturning 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 Heavenand on my honour the story I have told ye
gentlemenis in substance and its great itemstrue. 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.'"


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 whilethereforepreviously 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 matterby 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 HindooEgyptianand Grecian
sculptures. For ever since those inventive but unscrupulous times
when on the marble panellings of templesthe pedestals of statues
and on shieldsmedallionscupsand coinsthe dolphin was drawn in
scales of chain-armor like Saladin'sand a helmeted head like St.
George's; ever since then has something of the same sort of license
prevailednot only in most popular pictures of the whalebut in
many scientific presentations of him.

Nowby all oddsthe most ancient extant portrait anyways purporting
to be the whale'sis to be found in the famous cavern-pagoda of
Elephantain India. The Brahmins maintain that in the almost
endless sculptures of that immemorial pagodaall the trades and
pursuitsevery conceivable avocation of manwere prefigured ages
before any of them actually came into being. No wonder thenthat in
some sort our noble profession of whaling should have been there
shadowed forth. The Hindoo whale referred tooccurs in a separate
department of the walldepicting the incarnation of Vishnu in the
form of leviathanlearnedly known as the Matse Avatar. But though
this sculpture is half man and half whaleso as only to give the
tail of the latteryet that small section of him is all wrong. It
looks more like the tapering tail of an anacondathan the broad palms
of the true whale's majestic flukes.

But go to the old Galleriesand 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 creature as that? Nor does Hogarthin
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.

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 attemptslet us glance at
those pictures of leviathan purporting to be soberscientific
delineationsby those who know. In old Harris's collection of
voyages there are some plates of whales extracted from a Dutch book
of voyagesA.D. 1671entitled "A Whaling Voyage to Spitzbergen in
the ship Jonas in the WhalePeter Peterson of Frieslandmaster."
In one of those plates the whaleslike great rafts of logsare
represented lying among ice-isleswith white bears running over
their living backs. In another platethe prodigious blunder is made
of representing the whale with perpendicular flukes.

Then againthere is an imposing quartowritten by one Captain
Colnetta Post Captain in the English navyentitled "A Voyage round
Cape Horn into the South Seasfor the purpose of extending the
Spermaceti Whale Fisheries." In this book is an outline purporting

to be a "Picture of a Physeter or Spermaceti whaledrawn by scale
from one killed on the coast of MexicoAugust1793and 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 itlet
me say that it has an eye which appliedaccording to the
accompanying scaleto a full grown sperm whalewould make the eye
of that whale a bow-window some five feet long. Ahmy gallant
captainwhy 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 tenderfree from the same heinousness
of mistake. Look at that popular work "Goldsmith's Animated Nature."
In the abridged London edition of 1807there 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; andas
for the narwhaleone glimpse at it is enough to amaze onethat in
this nineteenth century such a hippogriff could be palmed for genuine
upon any intelligent public of schoolboys.

Thenagainin 1825Bernard GermainCount de Lacepedea great
naturalistpublished a scientific systemized whale bookwherein are
several pictures of the different species of the Leviathan. All
these are not only incorrectbut the picture of the Mysticetus or
Greenland whale (that is to saythe Right whale)even Scoresbya
long experienced man as touching that speciesdeclares 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 Cuvierbrother to the famous
Baron. In 1836he published a Natural History of Whalesin which
he gives what he calls a picture of the Sperm Whale. Before showing
that picture to any Nantucketeryou had best provide for your
summary retreat from Nantucket. In a wordFrederick Cuvier's Sperm
Whale is not a Sperm Whalebut a squash. Of coursehe never had
the benefit of a whaling voyage (such men seldom have)but whence he
derived that picturewho can tell? Perhaps he got it as his
scientific predecessor in the same fieldDesmarestgot one of his
authentic abortions; that isfrom a Chinese drawing. And what sort
of lively lads with the pencil those Chinese aremany queer cups and
saucers inform us.

As for the sign-painters' whales seen in the streets hanging over the
shops of oil-dealerswhat shall be said of them? They are generally
Richard III. whaleswith dromedary humpsand very savage;
breakfasting on three or four sailor tartsthat is whaleboats full
of mariners: their deformities floundering in seas of blood and blue

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 shipwith broken backwould
correctly represent the noble animal itself in all its undashed pride
of hull and spars. Though elephants have stood for their
full-lengthsthe living Leviathan has never yet fairly floated
himself for his portrait. The living whalein his full majesty and
significanceis only to be seen at sea in unfathomable waters; and
afloat the vast bulk of him is out of sightlike 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 airso as to
preserve all his mighty swells and undulations. Andnot to speak of
the highly presumable difference of contour between a young sucking
whale and a full-grown Platonian Leviathan; yeteven in the case of
one of those young sucking whales hoisted to a ship's decksuch is

then the outlandisheel-likelimberedvarying shape of himthat
his precise expression the devil himself could not catch.

But it may be fanciedthat from the naked skeleton of the stranded
whaleaccurate 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 skeletonwhich hangs for candelabra in the
library of one of his executorscorrectly conveys the idea of a
burly-browed utilitarian old gentlemanwith all Jeremy's other
leading personal characteristics; yet nothing of this kind could be
inferred from any leviathan's articulated bones. In factas the
great Hunter saysthe 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 headas in some part of this book will
be incidentally shown. It is also very curiously displayed in the
side finthe bones of which almost exactly answer to the bones of the
human handminus only the thumb. This fin has four regular
bone-fingersthe indexmiddleringand little finger. But all
these are permanently lodged in their fleshy coveringas the human
fingers in an artificial covering. "However recklessly the whale may
sometimes serve us said humorous Stubb one day, he can never be
truly said to handle us without mittens."

For all these reasonsthenany way you may look at ityou must
needs conclude that the great Leviathan is that one creature in the
world which must remain unpainted to the last. Trueone portrait
may hit the mark much nearer than anotherbut 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 contouris by going a whaling yourself; but by so doingyou
run no small risk of being eternally stove and sunk by him.
Whereforeit seems to me you had best not be too fastidious in your
curiosity touching this Leviathan.


Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whalesand the True Pictures of
Whaling Scenes.

In connexion with the monstrous pictures of whalesI am strongly
tempted here to enter upon those still more monstrous stories of them
which are to be found in certain booksboth ancient and modern
especially in PlinyPurchasHackluytHarrisCuvieretc. But I
pass that matter by.

I know of only four published outlines of the great Sperm Whale;
Colnett'sHuggins'sFrederick Cuvier'sand Beale's. In the
previous chapter Colnett and Cuvier have been referred to. Huggins's
is far better than theirs; butby great oddsBeale's is the best.
All Beale's drawings of this whale are goodexcepting the middle
figure in the picture of three whales in various attitudescapping
his second chapter. His frontispieceboats attacking Sperm Whales
though no doubt calculated to excite the civil scepticism of some
parlor menis admirably correct and life-like in its general effect.
Some of the Sperm Whale drawings in J. Ross Browne are pretty
correct in contour; but they are wretchedly engraved. That is not
his fault though.

Of the Right Whalethe 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 scenesand this is a sad
deficiencybecause it is by such pictures onlywhen at all well
donethat you can derive anything like a truthful idea of the living
whale as seen by his living hunters.

Buttaken for all in allby far the finestthough in some details
not the most correctpresentations of whales and whaling scenes to
be anywhere foundare two large French engravingswell executed
and taken from paintings by one Garnery. Respectivelythey
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 oceanand
bearing high in the air upon his back the terrific wreck of the
stoven planks. The prow of the boat is partially unbrokenand is
drawn just balancing upon the monster's spine; and standing in that
prowfor that one single incomputable flash of timeyou behold an
oarsmanhalf shrouded by the incensed boiling spout of the whale
and in the act of leapingas if from a precipice. The action 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
whalebut let that pass; sincefor the life of meI could not draw
so good a one.

In the second engravingthe boat is in the act of drawing alongside
the barnacled flank of a large running Right Whalethat rolls his
black weedy bulk in the sea like some mossy rock-slide from the
Patagonian cliffs. His jets are erectfulland black like soot; so
that from so abounding a smoke in the chimneyyou would think there
must be a brave supper cooking in the great bowels below. Sea fowls
are pecking at the small crabsshell-fishand other sea candies and
maccaroniwhich the Right Whale sometimes carries on his pestilent
back. And all the while the thick-lipped leviathan is rushing
through the deepleaving 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. Thusthe foreground is
all raging commotion; but behindin admirable artistic contrastis
the glassy level of a sea becalmedthe drooping unstarched sails of
the powerless shipand the inert mass of a dead whalea conquered
fortresswith the flag of capture lazily hanging from the whale-pole
inserted into his spout-hole.

Who Garnery the painter isor wasI know not. But my life for it
he was either practically conversant with his subjector else
marvellously tutored by some experienced whaleman. The French are
the lads for painting action. Go and gaze upon all the paintings of
Europeand where will you find such a gallery of living and
breathing commotion on canvasas in that triumphal hall at
Versailles; where the beholder fights his waypell-mellthrough the
consecutive great battles of France; where every sword seems a flash
of the Northern Lightsand the successive armed kings and Emperors
dash bylike a charge of crowned centaurs? Not wholly unworthy of a
place in that galleryare 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 fisheryand not the thousandth part of
that of the Americansthey have nevertheless furnished both nations

with the only finished sketches at all capable of conveying the real
spirit of the whale hunt. For the most partthe English and
American whale draughtsmen seem entirely content with presenting the
mechanical outline of thingssuch as the vacant profile of the
whale; whichso far as picturesqueness of effect is concernedis
about tantamount to sketching the profile of a pyramid. Even
Scoresbythe justly renowned Right whalemanafter giving us a stiff
full length of the Greenland whaleand three or four delicate
miniatures of narwhales and porpoisestreats us to a series of
classical engravings of boat hookschopping knivesand 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 Garnerythere are two
other French engravings worthy of noteby some one who subscribes
himself "H. Durand." One of themthough not precisely adapted to
our present purposenevertheless deserves mention on other accounts.
It is a quiet noon-scene among the isles of the Pacific; a French
whaler anchoredinshorein a calmand lazily taking water on
board; the loosened sails of the shipand the long leaves of the
palms in the backgroundboth drooping together in the breezeless
air. The effect is very finewhen 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 seaand in the very heart of the
Leviathanic lifewith a Right Whale alongside; the vessel (in the
act of cutting-in) hove over to the monster as if to a quay; and a
boathurriedly pushing off from this scene of activityis 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 seathe little craft stands
half-erect out of the waterlike 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 windwarda black cloud
rising up with earnest of squalls and rainsseems to quicken the
activity of the excited seamen.


Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron; in Stone; in
Mountains; in Stars.

On Tower-hillas you go down to the London docksyou may have seen
a crippled beggar (or KEDGERas the sailors say) holding a painted
board before himrepresenting 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 yearsthey tell mehas that man held up that pictureand
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 Wappingat any rate; and his stump as
unquestionable a stump as any you will find in the western clearings.
Butthough for ever mounted on that stumpnever a stump-speech
does the poor whaleman make; butwith downcast eyesstands ruefully
contemplating his own amputation.

Throughout the Pacificand also in Nantucketand New Bedfordand
Sag Harboryou will come across lively sketches of whales and
whaling-scenesgraven by the fishermen themselves on Sperm
Whale-teethor ladies' busks wrought out of the Right Whale-bone
and other like skrimshander articlesas the whalemen call the
numerous little ingenious contrivances they elaborately carve out of
the rough materialin their hours of ocean leisure. Some of them
have little boxes of dentistical-looking implementsspecially
intended for the skrimshandering business. Butin generalthey
toil with their jack-knives alone; andwith that almost omnipotent
tool of the sailorthey will turn you out anything you pleasein
the way of a mariner's fancy.

Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a
man to that condition in which God placed himi.e. what is called
savagery. Your true whale-hunter is as much a savage as an Iroquois.
I myself am a savageowning no allegiance but to the King of the
Cannibals; and ready at any moment to rebel against him.

Nowone of the peculiar characteristics of the savage in his
domestic hoursis his wonderful patience of industry. An ancient
Hawaiian war-club or spear-paddlein its full multiplicity and
elaboration of carvingis as great a trophy of human perseverance as
a Latin lexicon. Forwith but a bit of broken sea-shell or a
shark's tooththat miraculous intricacy of wooden net-work has been
achieved; and it has cost steady years of steady application.

As with the Hawaiian savageso with the white sailor-savage. With
the same marvellous patienceand with the same single shark's tooth
of his one poor jack-knifehe will carve you a bit of bone
sculpturenot quite as workmanlikebut as close packed in its
maziness of designas the Greek savageAchilles's shield; and full
of barbaric spirit and suggestivenessas the prints of that fine old
Dutch savageAlbert Durer.

Wooden whalesor whales cut in profile out of the small dark slabs
of the noble South Sea war-woodare frequently met with in the
forecastles of American whalers. Some of them are done with much

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 sleepythe 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 elevatedand besides that
are to all intents and purposes so labelled with "HANDS OFF!" you
cannot examine them closely enough to decide upon their merit.

In bonyribby regions of the earthwhere at the base of high broken
cliffs masses of rock lie strewn in fantastic groupings upon the
plainyou will often discover images as of the petrified forms of
the Leviathan partly merged in grasswhich of a windy day breaks
against them in a surf of green surges.

Thenagainin 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 whalemanto see these sights; and not only thatbut
if you wish to return to such a sight againyou must be sure and
take the exact intersecting latitude and longitude of your first
stand-pointelse so chance-like are such observations of the hills
that your preciseprevious stand-point would require a laborious

re-discovery; like the Soloma Islandswhich still remain incognita
though once high-ruffed Mendanna trod them and old Figuera
chronicled them.

Nor when expandingly lifted by your subjectcan you fail to trace
out great whales in the starry heavensand 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 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-Navisand 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 spurswould 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!



Steering north-eastward from the Crozettswe fell in with vast
meadows of britthe minuteyellow substanceupon 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 daynumbers of Right Whales were seenwhosecure
from the attack of a Sperm Whaler like the Pequodwith open jaws
sluggishly swam through the britwhichadhering to the fringing
fibres of that wondrous Venetian blind in their mouthswas in that
manner separated from the water that escaped at the lip.

As morning mowerswho side by side slowly and seethingly advance
their scythes through the long wet grass of marshy meads; even so
these monsters swammaking a strangegrassycutting 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 dobecause of there
being shallows and soundings therebut because of this remarkable
meadow-like appearancecaused by the vast drifts of brit continually
floating in those latitudeswhere 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-headsespecially
when they paused and were stationary for a whiletheir vast black
forms looked more like lifeless masses of rock than anything else.
And as in the great hunting countries of Indiathe stranger at a
distance will sometimes pass on the plains recumbent elephants
without knowing them to be suchtaking them for bareblackened
elevations of the soil; even sooftenwith himwho for the first
time beholds this species of the leviathans of the sea. And even
when recognised at lasttheir immense magnitude renders it very
hard really to believe that such bulky masses of overgrowth can
possibly be instinctin all partswith the same sort of life that
lives in a dog or a horse.

Indeedin other respectsyou 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 thingthis may very well be; yet coming to specialties
wherefor exampledoes 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 thoughto landsmen in generalthe 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
incognitaso that Columbus sailed over numberless unknown worlds to
discover his one superficial western one; thoughby vast oddsthe
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
teachthat however baby man may brag of his science and skilland
however muchin a flattering futurethat science and skill may
augment; yet for ever and for everto the crack of doomthe sea
will insult and murder himand pulverize the statelieststiffest
frigate he can make; neverthelessby the continual repetition of
these very impressionsman has lost that sense of the full awfulness
of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.

The first boat we read offloated on an oceanthat with Portuguese
vengeance had whelmed a whole world without leaving so much as a
widow. That same ocean rolls now; that same ocean destroyed the
wrecked ships of last year. Yeafoolish mortalsNoah's flood is
not yet subsided; two thirds of the fair world it yet covers.

Wherein differ the sea and the landthat a miracle upon one is not a
miracle upon the other? Preternatural terrors rested upon the
Hebrewswhen under the feet of Korah and his company the live ground
opened and swallowed them up for ever; yet not a modern sun ever
setsbut 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 itbut
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 cubsso the sea dashes even the mightiest whales
against the rocksand leaves them there side by side with the split
wrecks of ships. No mercyno 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 waterunapparent for the most partand treacherously
hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the
devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless
tribesas the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks.
Consideronce morethe universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose
creatures prey upon each othercarrying on eternal war since the
world began.

Consider all this; and then turn to this greengentleand most
docile earth; consider them boththe sea and the land; and do you
not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this
appalling ocean surrounds the verdant landso in the soul of man
there lies one insular Tahitifull of peace and joybut encompassed

by all the horrors of the half known life. God keep thee! Push not
off from that islethou canst never return!



Slowly wading through the meadows of britthe Pequod still held on
her way north-eastward towards the island of Java; a gentle air
impelling her keelso that in the surrounding serenity her three
tall tapering masts mildly waved to that languid breezeas three
mild palms on a plain. And stillat wide intervals in the silvery
nightthe lonelyalluring jet would be seen.

But one transparent blue morningwhen a stillness almost
preternatural spread over the seahowever unattended with any
stagnant calm; when the long burnished sun-glade on the waters seemed
a golden finger laid across themenjoining 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 distancea great white mass lazily roseand rising higher
and higherand disentangling itself from the azureat last gleamed
before our prow like a snow-slidenew slid from the hills. Thus
glistening for a momentas slowly it subsidedand sank. Then once
more aroseand silently gleamed. It seemed not a whale; and yet is
this Moby Dick? thought Daggoo. Again the phantom went downbut on
re-appearing once morewith a stiletto-like cry that startled every
man from his nodthe negro yelled out--"There! there again! there
she breaches! right ahead! The White Whalethe White Whale!"

Upon thisthe seamen rushed to the yard-armsas in swarming-time
the bees rush to the boughs. Bare-headed in the sultry sunAhab
stood on the bowspritand with one hand pushed far behind in
readiness to wave his orders to the helmsmancast 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 Ahabso 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 wasor whether his
eagerness betrayed him; whichever way it might have beenno sooner
did he distinctly perceive the white massthan with a quick
intensity he instantly gave orders for lowering.

The four boats were soon on the water; Ahab's in advanceand all
swiftly pulling towards their prey. Soon it went downand while
with oars suspendedwe were awaiting its reappearancelo! in the
same spot where it sankonce more it slowly rose. Almost forgetting
for the moment all thoughts of Moby Dickwe now gazed at the most
wondrous phenomenon which the secret seas have hitherto revealed to
mankind. A vast pulpy massfurlongs in length and breadthof a
glancing cream-colourlay floating on the waterinnumerable long
arms radiating from its centreand curling and twisting like a nest
of anacondasas 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
billowsan unearthlyformlesschance-like apparition of life.

As with a low sucking sound it slowly disappeared againStarbuck

still gazing at the agitated waters where it had sunkwith a wild
voice exclaimed--"Almost rather had I seen Moby Dick and fought him
than to have seen theethou 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 boathe sailed back to the
vessel; the rest as silently following.

Whatever superstitions the sperm whalemen in general have connected
with the sight of this objectcertain it isthat a glimpse of it
being so very unusualthat circumstance has gone far to invest it
with portentousness. So rarely is it beheldthat though one and all
of them declare it to be the largest animated thing in the oceanyet
very few of them have any but the most vague ideas concerning its
true nature and form; notwithstandingthey believe it to furnish to
the sperm whale his only food. For though other species of whales
find their food above waterand may be seen by man in the act of
feedingthe spermaceti whale obtains his whole food in unknown zones
below the surface; and only by inference is it that any one can tell
of whatpreciselythat food consists. At timeswhen closely
pursuedhe 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 whaleunlike other speciesis 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 describes itas alternately rising and sinking
with some other particulars he narratesin 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
creaturehere spoken ofit is included among the class of
cuttle-fishto whichindeedin certain external respects it would
seem to belongbut only as the Anak of the tribe.


The Line.

With reference to the whaling scene shortly to be describedas well
as for the better understanding of all similar scenes elsewhere
presentedI have here to speak of the magicalsometimes horrible

The line originally used in the fishery was of the best hemp
slightly vapoured with tarnot impregnated with itas in the case of
ordinary ropes; for while taras ordinarily usedmakes the hemp
more pliable to the rope-makerand also renders the rope itself more
convenient to the sailor for common ship use; yetnot 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 learntar in general by no means adds to the rope's
durability or strengthhowever much it may give it compactness and


Of late years the Manilla rope has in the American fishery almost
entirely superseded hemp as a material for whale-lines; forthough
not so durable as hempit is strongerand far more soft and
elastic; and I will add (since there is an aesthetics in all things)
is much more handsome and becoming to the boatthan hemp. Hemp is a
duskydark fellowa 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
sightyou 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 lengththe common sperm whale-line
measures something over two hundred fathoms. Towards the stern of
the boat it is spirally coiled away in the tubnot like the
worm-pipe of a still thoughbut 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

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 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 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 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 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.


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 sultryand with nothing
special to engage themthe 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 isit affords fewer glimpses of
porpoisesdolphinsflying-fishand other vivacious denizens of
more stirring watersthan those off the Rio de la Plataor 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 shroudsto and fro I idly swayed
in what seemed an enchanted air. No resolution could withstand it;
in that dreamy mood losing all consciousnessat last my soul went
out of my body; though my body still continued to sway as a pendulum
willlong after the power which first moved it is withdrawn.

Ere forgetfulness altogether came over meI 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 sparsand for
every swing that we made there was a nod from below from the
slumbering helmsman. The wavestoonodded their indolent crests;
and across the wide trance of the seaeast nodded to westand the
sun over all.

Suddenly bubbles seemed bursting beneath my closed eyes; like vices
my hands grasped the shrouds; some invisiblegracious agency
preserved me; with a shock I came back to life. And lo! close under
our leenot forty fathoms offa gigantic Sperm Whale lay rolling in
the water like the capsized hull of a frigatehis broadglossy
backof an Ethiopian hueglistening in the sun's rays like a
mirror. But lazily undulating in the trough of the seaand ever and
anon tranquilly spouting his vapoury jetthe whale looked like a
portly burgher smoking his pipe of a warm afternoon. But that pipe
poor whalewas thy last. As if struck by some enchanter's wandthe
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
vesselsimultaneously with the three notes from aloftshouted forth
the accustomed cryas the great fish slowly and regularly spouted
the sparkling brine into the air.

Clear away the boats! Luff!cried Ahab. And obeying his own
orderhe dashed the helm down before the helmsman could handle the

The sudden exclamations of the crew must have alarmed the whale; and
ere the boats were downmajestically turninghe swam away to the
leewardbut with such a steady tranquillityand making so few
ripples as he swamthat thinking after all he might not as yet be
alarmedAhab gave orders that not an oar should be usedand no man
must speak but in whispers. So seated like Ontario Indians on the
gunwales of the boatswe swiftly but silently paddled along; the
calm not admitting of the noiseless sails being set. Presentlyas
we thus glided in chasethe monster perpendicularly flitted his tail
forty feet into the airand then sank out of sight like a tower
swallowed up.

There go flukes!was the cryan announcement immediately followed
by Stubb's producing his match and igniting his pipefor now a
respite was granted. After the full interval of his sounding had
elapsedthe whale rose againand being now in advance of the
smoker's boatand much nearer to it than to any of the othersStubb
counted upon the honour of the capture. It was obviousnowthat 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 pipeStubb
cheered on his crew to the assault.

Yesa mighty change had come over the fish. All alive to his
jeopardyhe 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 massiveit is by far the most buoyant
part about him. So that with ease he elevates it in the airand
invariably does so when going at his utmost speed. Besidessuch is
the breadth of the upper part of the front of his headand such the
tapering cut-water formation of the lower partthat by obliquely
elevating his headhe thereby may be said to transform himself from
a bluff-bowed sluggish galliot into a sharppointed New York

Start her, start her, my men! Don't hurry yourselves; take plenty
of time--but start her; start her like thunder-claps, that's all,
cried Stubbspluttering out the smoke as he spoke. "Start hernow;
give 'em the long and strong strokeTashtego. Start herTashmy
boy--start herall; but keep coolkeep cool--cucumbers is the
word--easyeasy--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 replyraising 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 Daggoostraining forwards and backwards
on his seatlike a pacing tiger in his cage.

Ka-la! Koo-loo!howled Queequegas if smacking his lips over a
mouthful of Grenadier's steak. And thus with oars and yells the
keels cut the sea. MeanwhileStubb retaining his place in the
vanstill encouraged his men to the onsetall the while puffing the
smoke from his mouth. Like desperadoes they tugged and they
strainedtill the welcome cry was heard--"Stand upTashtego!--give
it to him!" The harpoon was hurled. "Stern all!" The oarsmen
backed water; the same moment something went hot and hissing along
every one of their wrists. It was the magical line. An instant
beforeStubb had swiftly caught two additional turns with it round
the loggerheadwhenceby reason of its increased rapid circlingsa
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
alsojust before reaching that pointit blisteringly passed through
and through both of Stubb's handsfrom which the hand-clothsor
squares of quilted canvas sometimes worn at these timeshad
accidentally dropped. It was like holding an enemy's sharp two-edged

sword by the bladeand 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) whosnatching off his hatdashed sea-water into
it.* More turns were takenso 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 actit may here be
statedthatin the old Dutch fisherya mop was used to dash the
running line with water; in many other shipsa wooden pigginor
baileris set apart for that purpose. Your hathoweveris the
most convenient.

From the vibrating line extending the entire length of the upper part
of the boatand from its now being more tight than a harpstringyou
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; andat the slightest motion
from withineven but of a little fingerthe vibratingcracking
craft canted over her spasmodic gunwale into the sea. Thus they
rushed; each man with might and main clinging to his seatto prevent
being tossed to the foam; and the tall form of Tashtego at the
steering oar crouching almost doublein order to bring down his
centre of gravity. Whole Atlantics and Pacifics seemed passed as
they shot on their waytill at length the whale somewhat slackened
his flight.

Haul in--haul in!cried Stubb to the bowsman! andfacing round
towards the whaleall hands began pulling the boat up to himwhile
yet the boat was being towed on. Soon ranging up by his flank
Stubbfirmly planting his knee in the clumsy cleatdarted dart
after dart into the flying fish; at the word of commandthe boat
alternately 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 seasent back
its reflection into every faceso that they all glowed to each other
like red men. And all the whilejet after jet of white smoke was
agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whaleand 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 againby a few rapid blows against the
gunwalethen again and again sent it into the whale.

Pull up--pull up!he now cried to the bowsmanas 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 bowStubb slowly
churned his long sharp lance into the fishand kept it there
carefully churning and churningas if cautiously seeking to feel
after some gold watch that the whale might have swallowedand which
he was fearful of breaking ere he could hook it out. But that gold
watch he sought was the innermost life of the fish. And now it is
struck; forstarting 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

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 deadMr. Stubb said Daggoo.

Yes; both pipes smoked out!" and withdrawing his own from his mouth
Stubb scattered the dead ashes over the water; andfor a moment
stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made.


The Dart.

A word concerning an incident in the last chapter.

According to the invariable usage of the fisherythe whale-boat
pushes off from the shipwith the headsman or whale-killer as
temporary steersmanand the harpooneer or whale-fastener pulling the
foremost oarthe one known as the harpooneer-oar. Now it needs a
strongnervous arm to strike the first iron into the fish; for
oftenin what is called a long dartthe heavy implement has to be
flung to the distance of twenty or thirty feet. But however
prolonged and exhausting the chasethe harpooneer is expected to
pull his oar meanwhile to the uttermost; indeedhe is expected to
set an example of superhuman activity to the restnot only by
incredible rowingbut by repeated loud and intrepid exclamations;
and what it is to keep shouting at the top of one's compasswhile
all the other muscles are strained and half started--what that is
none know but those who have tried it. For oneI cannot bawl very
heartily and work very recklessly at one and the same time. In this
strainingbawling statethenwith his back to the fishall at
once the exhausted harpooneer hears the exciting cry--"Stand upand
give it to him!" He now has to drop and secure his oarturn round
on his centre half wayseize his harpoon from the crotchand with
what little strength may remainhe essays to pitch it somehow into
the whale. No wondertaking the whole fleet of whalemen in a body
that out of fifty fair chances for a dartnot 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
ownerswhaling is but a losing concern; for it is the harpooneer
that makes the voyageand if you take the breath out of his body how
can you expect to find it there when most wanted!

Againif the dart be successfulthen at the second critical
instantthat iswhen the whale starts to runthe boatheader and
harpooneer likewise start to running fore and aftto the imminent
jeopardy of themselves and every one else. It is then they change
places; and the headsmanthe chief officer of the little craft
takes his proper station in the bows of the boat.

NowI care not who maintains the contrarybut all this is both
foolish and unnecessary. The headsman should stay in the bows from
first to last; he should both dart the harpoon and the lanceand no
rowing whatever should be expected of himexcept 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 fisheryit 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 dartthe harpooneers of
this world must start to their feet from out of idlenessand not
from out of toil.


The Crotch.

Out of the trunkthe branches grow; out of themthe twigs. Soin
productive subjectsgrow the chapters.

The crotch alluded to on a previous page deserves independent
mention. It is a notched stick of a peculiar formsome two feet in
lengthwhich is perpendicularly inserted into the starboard gunwale
near the bowfor the purpose of furnishing a rest for the wooden
extremity of the harpoonwhose other nakedbarbed end slopingly
projects from the prow. Thereby the weapon is instantly at hand to
its hurlerwho 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 crotchrespectively called the first
and second irons.

But these two harpoonseach by its own cordare both connected with
the line; the object being this: to dart them bothif possibleone
instantly after the other into the same whale; so that ifin the
coming dragone should draw outthe other may still retain a hold.
It is a doubling of the chances. But it very often happens that
owing to the instantaneousviolentconvulsive running of the whale
upon receiving the first ironit becomes impossible for the
harpooneerhowever lightning-like in his movementsto pitch the
second iron into him. Neverthelessas the second iron is already
connected with the lineand the line is runninghence that weapon
mustat all eventsbe anticipatingly tossed out of the boat
somehow and somewhere; else the most terrible jeopardy would involve
all hands. Tumbled into the waterit accordingly is in such cases;
the spare coils of box line (mentioned in a preceding chapter) making
this featin most instancesprudently practicable. But this
critical act is not always unattended with the saddest and most fatal

Furthermore: you must know that when the second iron is thrown
overboardit thenceforth becomes a danglingsharp-edged terror
skittishly curvetting about both boat and whaleentangling the
linesor cutting themand making a prodigious sensation in all
directions. Norin generalis it possible to secure it again until
the whale is fairly captured and a corpse.

Considernowhow it must be in the case of four boats all engaging
one unusually strongactiveand knowing whale; when owing to these
qualities in himas well as to the thousand concurring accidents of

such an audacious enterpriseeight or ten loose second irons may be
simultaneously dangling about him. Forof courseeach 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 hereas they will not fail to
elucidate several most importanthowever intricate passagesin
scenes hereafter to be painted.


Stubb's Supper.

Stubb's whale had been killed some distance from the ship. It was a
calm; soforming a tandem of three boatswe commenced the slow
business of towing the trophy to the Pequod. And nowas we eighteen
men with our thirty-six armsand one hundred and eighty thumbs and
fingersslowly toiled hour after hour upon that inertsluggish
corpse in the sea; and it seemed hardly to budge at allexcept at
long intervals; good evidence was hereby furnished of the
enormousness of the mass we moved. Forupon the great canal of
Hang-Hoor whatever they call itin Chinafour 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 alongas 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 momenthe issued the usual orders for
securing it for the nightand then handing his lantern to a seaman
went his way into the cabinand did not come forward again until

Thoughin overseeing the pursuit of this whaleCaptain Ahab had
evinced his customary activityto call it so; yet now that the
creature was deadsome vague dissatisfactionor impatienceor
despairseemed 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 shipall that would not
one jot advance his grandmonomaniac object. Very soon you would
have thought from the sound on the Pequod's decksthat all hands
were preparing to cast anchor in the deep; for heavy chains are being
dragged along the deckand thrust rattling out of the port-holes.
But by those clanking linksthe vast corpse itselfnot the shipis
to be moored. Tied by the head to the sternand by the tail to the
bowsthe whale now lies with its black hull close to the vessel's
and seen through the darkness of the nightwhich obscured the spars
and rigging aloftthe two--ship and whaleseemed yoked together
like colossal bullockswhereof one reclines while the other remains

*A little item may as well be related here. The strongest and most
reliable hold which the ship has upon the whale when moored
alongsideis by the flukes or tail; and as from its greater density
that part is relatively heavier than any other (excepting the
side-fins)its flexibility even in deathcauses it to sink low
beneath the surface; so that with the hand you cannot get at it from
the boatin order to put the chain round it. But this difficulty is
ingeniously overcome: a smallstrong line is prepared with a wooden
float at its outer endand a weight in its middlewhile the other

end is secured to the ship. By adroit management the wooden float is
made to rise on the other side of the massso that now having
girdled the whalethe chain is readily made to follow suit; and
being slipped along the bodyis at last locked fast round the
smallest part of the tailat the point of junction with its broad
flukes or lobes.

If moody Ahab was now all quiescenceat least so far as could be
known on deckStubbhis second mateflushed with conquest
betrayed an unusual but still good-natured excitement. Such an
unwonted bustle was he in that the staid Starbuckhis official
superiorquietly resigned to him for the time the sole management of
affairs. One smallhelping 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

A steak, a steak, ere I sleep! You, Daggoo! overboard you go, and
cut me one from his small!

Here be it knownthat though these wild fishermen do notas a
general thingand according to the great military maximmake 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 oilStubb stoutly stood up to his spermaceti
supper at the capstan-headas if that capstan were a sideboard. Nor
was Stubb the only banqueter on whale's flesh that night. Mingling
their mumblings with his own masticationsthousands on thousands of
sharksswarming round the dead leviathansmackingly feasted on its
fatness. The few sleepers below in their bunks were often startled
by the sharp slapping of their tails against the hullwithin a few
inches of the sleepers' hearts. Peering over the side you could just
see them (as before you heard them) wallowing in the sullenblack
watersand turning over on their backs as they scooped out huge
globular pieces of the whale of the bigness of a human head. This
particular feat of the shark seems all but miraculous. How at such
an apparently unassailable surfacethey contrive to gouge out such
symmetrical mouthfulsremains a part of the universal problem of all
things. The mark they thus leave on the whalemay 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 deckslike
hungry dogs round a table where red meat is being carvedready to
bolt down every killed man that is tossed to them; and thoughwhile
the valiant butchers over the deck-table are thus cannibally carving
each other's live meat with carving-knives all gilded and tasselled
the sharksalsowith their jewel-hilted mouthsare quarrelsomely
carving away under the table at the dead meat; and thoughwere you
to turn the whole affair upside downit would still be pretty much
the same thingthat is to saya shocking sharkish business enough
for all parties; and though sharks also are the invariable outriders
of all slave ships crossing the Atlanticsystematically trotting
alongsideto be handy in case a parcel is to be carried anywhereor
a dead slave to be decently buried; and though one or two other like
instances might be set downtouching the set termsplacesand
occasionswhen sharks do most socially congregateand most
hilariously feast; yet is there no conceivable time or occasion when

you will find them in such countless numbersand in gayer or more
jovial spiritsthan around a dead sperm whalemoored by night to a
whaleship at sea. If you have never seen that sightthen suspend
your decision about the propriety of devil-worshipand the
expediency of conciliating the devil.

Butas yetStubb heeded not the mumblings of the banquet that was
going on so nigh himno more than the sharks heeded the smacking of
his own epicurean lips.

Cook, cook!--where's that old Fleece?he cried at lengthwidening
his legs still furtheras if to form a more secure base for his
supper; andat the same time darting his fork into the dishas if
stabbing with his lance; "cookyou cook!--sail this waycook!"

The old blacknot in any very high glee at having been previously
roused from his warm hammock at a most unseasonable hourcame
shambling along from his galleyforlike many old blacksthere was
something the matter with his knee-panswhich he did not keep well
scoured like his other pans; this old Fleeceas they called him
came shuffling and limping alongassisting his step with his tongs
whichafter a clumsy fashionwere made of straightened iron hoops;
this old Ebony floundered alongand in obedience to the word of
commandcame to a dead stop on the opposite side of Stubb's
sideboard; whenwith both hands folded before himand resting on
his two-legged canehe bowed his arched back still further overat
the same time sideways inclining his headso as to bring his best
ear into play.

Cook,said Stubbrapidly lifting a rather reddish morsel to his
mouthdon'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 thengo and preach
to 'em!"

Sullenly taking the offered lanternold Fleece limped across the
deck to the bulwarks; and thenwith one hand dropping his light low
over the seaso as to get a good view of his congregationwith the
other hand he solemnly flourished his tongsand leaning far over the
side in a mumbling voice began addressing the sharkswhile Stubb
softly crawling behindoverheard 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 Stubbaccompanying the word with a sudden
slap on the shoulder--"Cook! whydamn your eyesyou mustn't swear
that way when you're preaching. That's no way to convert sinners

Who dat? Den preach to him yourself,sullenly turning to go.

No, cook; go on, go on.

Well, den, Belubed fellow-critters:

Right!exclaimed Stubbapprovinglycoax '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 Stubbcollaring himI won't have that swearing.
Talk to 'em gentlemanly.

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 Stubbthat'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 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 thisFleeceholding both hands over the fishy mobraised his
shrill voiceand 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 Stubbresuming his supper at the capstan; "stand
just where you stood beforethereover against meand pay
particular attention."

All 'dention,said Fleeceagain stooping over upon his tongs in
the desired position.

Well,said Stubbhelping himself freely meanwhile; "I shall now go
back to the subject of this steak. In the first placehow old are

What dat do wid de 'teak,said the old blacktestily.

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 wordso that morsel seemed a
continuation of the question. "Where were you borncook?"

'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 growledangrilyturning
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 momentthe old
negro mutteredBest cooked 'teak I eber taste; joosy, berry joosy.

Cook,said Stubbsquaring himself once more; "do you belong to the

Passed one once in Cape-Down,said the old man sullenly.

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 mumbledhalf-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 slowlychanging his
whole air and demeanorhe 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 Fleeceholding his tongs straight over his headand
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 Fleeceagain in the sulks.

You said up there, didn't you? and now look yourself, and see where
your tongs are pointing. But, perhaps you 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 blackwith both hands placed as
desiredvainly wriggling his grizzled headas 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.

But Fleece had hardly got three paces offwhen 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
manlimping away; with which sage ejaculation he went to his


The Whale as a Dish.

That mortal man should feed upon the creature that feeds his lamp
andlike Stubbeat him by his own lightas 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 recordthat three centuries ago the tongue of the Right
Whale was esteemed a great delicacy in Franceand commanded large
prices there. Alsothat in Henry VIIIth's timea certain cook of
the court obtained a handsome reward for inventing an admirable sauce
to be eaten with barbacued porpoiseswhichyou rememberare a
species of whale. Porpoisesindeedare to this day considered fine
eating. The meat is made into balls about the size of billiard
ballsand 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 isthat among his hunters at leastthe whale would by all
hands be considered a noble dishwere there not so much of him; but
when you come to sit down before a meat-pie nearly one hundred feet
longit takes away your appetite. Only the most unprejudiced of men
like Stubbnowadays partake of cooked whales; but the Esquimaux are
not so fastidious. We all know how they live upon whalesand have
rare old vintages of prime old train oil. Zograndaone of their
most famous doctorsrecommends strips of blubber for infantsas
being exceedingly juicy and nourishing. And this reminds me that
certain Englishmenwho 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"; whichindeedthey greatly resemblebeing brown
and crispand smelling something like old Amsterdam housewives'
dough-nuts or oly-cookswhen 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 dishis his
exceeding richness. He is the great prize ox of the seatoo fat to
be delicately good. Look at his humpwhich 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 itselfhow bland and
creamy that is; like the transparenthalf-jelliedwhite meat of a
cocoanut in the third month of its growthyet far too rich to supply
a substitute for butter. Neverthelessmany whalemen have a method
of absorbing it into some other substanceand 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 axeand the
two plumpwhitish lobes being withdrawn (precisely resembling two
large puddings)they are then mixed with flourand cooked into a
most delectable messin flavor somewhat resembling calves' head
which is quite a dish among some epicures; and every one knows that
some young bucks among the epicuresby continually dining upon
calves' brainsby 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
indeedrequires uncommon discrimination. And that is the reason why
a young buck with an intelligent looking calf's head before himis
somehow one of the saddest sights you can see. The head looks a sort
of reproachfully at himwith an "Et tu Brute!" expression.

It is notperhapsentirely because the whale is so excessively
unctuous that landsmen seem to regard the eating of him with
abhorrence; that appears to resultin some wayfrom the
consideration before mentioned: i.e. that a man should eat a newly
murdered thing of the seaand 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
oxenhe 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 FejeeI sayin the day of judgmentthan for thee
civilized and enlightened gourmandwho nailest geese to the ground
and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate-de-foie-gras.

But Stubbhe eats the whale by its own lightdoes he? and that is
adding insult to injuryis it? Look at your knife-handletheremy
civilized and enlightened gourmand dining off that roast beefwhat
is that handle made of?--what but the bones of the brother of the
very ox you are eating? And what do you pick your teeth withafter
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.


The Shark Massacre.

When in the Southern Fisherya captured Sperm Whaleafter long and
weary toilis brought alongside late at nightit is notas a
general thing at leastcustomary 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. Thereforethe common usage is to take in all sail; lash the
helm a'lee; and then send every one below to his hammock till
daylightwith the reservation thatuntil that timeanchor-watches
shall be kept; that istwo and two for an houreach couplethe
crew in rotation shall mount the deck to see that all goes well.

But sometimesespecially upon the Line in the Pacificthis plan
will not answer at all; because such incalculable hosts of sharks
gather round the moored carcasethat were he left so for six hours
sayon a stretchlittle more than the skeleton would be visible by
morning. In most other parts of the oceanhoweverwhere these fish
do not so largely aboundtheir wondrous voracity can be at times
considerably diminishedby vigorously stirring them up with sharp
whaling-spadesa procedure notwithstandingwhichin some
instancesonly seems to tickle them into still greater activity.
But it was not thus in the present case with the Pequod's sharks;
thoughto be sureany man unaccustomed to such sightsto have
looked over her side that nightwould have almost thought the whole
round sea was one huge cheeseand those sharks the maggots in it.

Neverthelessupon Stubb setting the anchor-watch after his supper
was concluded; and whenaccordinglyQueequeg and a forecastle
seaman came on deckno small excitement was created among the
sharks; for immediately suspending the cutting stages over the side
and lowering three lanternsso that they cast long gleams of light
over the turbid seathese two marinersdarting their long
whaling-spadeskept up an incessant murdering of the sharks* by
striking the keen steel deep into their skullsseemingly their only
vital part. But in the foamy confusion of their mixed and struggling
hoststhe marksmen could not always hit their mark; and this brought
about new revelations of the incredible ferocity of the foe. They
viciously snappednot only at each other's disembowelmentsbut like
flexible bowsbent roundand bit their own; till those entrails
seemed swallowed over and over again by the same mouthto 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 bonesafter what might be called the individual life had
departed. Killed and hoisted on deck for the sake of his skinone
of these sharks almost took poor Queequeg's hand offwhen 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
shapecorresponds to the garden implement after which it is named;
only its sides are perfectly flatand its upper end considerably
narrower than the lower. This weapon is always kept as sharp as
possible; and when being used is occasionally honedjust like a
razor. In its socketa stiff polefrom 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."


Cutting In.

It was a Saturday nightand 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 placethe enormous cutting tacklesamong other
ponderous things comprising a cluster of blocks generally painted
greenand 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-headthe strongest point anywhere above a ship's deck. The end
of the hawser-like rope winding through these intricacieswas then
conducted to the windlassand the huge lower block of the tackles
was swung over the whale; to this block the great blubber hook
weighing some one hundred poundswas attached. And now suspended in
stages over the sideStarbuck and Stubbthe matesarmed with their
long spadesbegan cutting a hole in the body for the insertion of
the hook just above the nearest of the two side-fins. This donea
broadsemicircular line is cut round the holethe hook is inserted
and the main body of the crew striking up a wild chorusnow commence
heaving in one dense crowd at the windlass. When instantlythe
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
quiversand nods her frighted mast-heads to the sky. More and more
she leans over to the whalewhile every gasping heave of the
windlass is answered by a helping heave from the billows; till at
lasta swiftstartling snap is heard; with a great swash the ship
rolls upwards and backwards from the whaleand 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 orangeso 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 waterand 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 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 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.


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, 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
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 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

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 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

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 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!


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 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.

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.


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 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 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. Speakthou
vast and venerable head muttered Ahab, whichthough ungarnished
with a beardyet here and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak
mighty headand tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all
diversthou hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper
sun now gleamshas moved amid this world's foundations. Where
unrecorded names and navies rustand untold hopes and anchors rot;

where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with
bones of millions of the drowned; therein that awful water-land
there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where bell or diver
never went; hast slept by many a sailor's sidewhere 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 otherwhen 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 outstretchedlonging arms.
O head! thou hast seen enough to split the planets and make an
infidel of Abrahamand not one syllable is thine!"

Sail ho!cried a triumphant voice from the main-mast-head.

Aye? Well, now, that's cheering,cried Ahabsuddenly erecting
himselfwhile 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 betterman. Would now St. Paul would come along that
wayand to my breezelessness bring his breeze! O Natureand O soul
of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies! not
the smallest atom stirs or lives on matterbut has its cunning
duplicate in mind."


The Jeroboam's Story.

Hand in handship and breeze blew on; but the breeze came faster
than the shipand soon the Pequod began to rock.

By and bythrough the glass the stranger's boats and manned
mast-heads proved her a whale-ship. But as she was so far to
windwardand shooting byapparently making a passage to some other
groundthe Pequod could not hope to reach her. So the signal was
set to see what response would be made.

Here be it saidthat like the vessels of military marinesthe 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 attachedevery captain is provided with it. Therebythe
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 yardsshe bore downranged abeam under the
Pequod's leeand lowered a boat; it soon drew nigh; butas the
side-ladder was being rigged by Starbuck's order to accommodate the
visiting captainthe 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 Mayhewher captainwas fearful of infecting the Pequod's
company. Forthough himself and boat's crew remained untaintedand

though his ship was half a rifle-shot offand an incorruptible sea
and air rolling and flowing between; yet conscientiously adhering to
the timid quarantine of the landhe 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 shipthe
Jeroboam's boat by the occasional use of its oars contrived to keep
parallel to the Pequodas she heavily forged through the sea (for by
this time it blew very fresh)with her main-topsail aback; though
indeedat times by the sudden onset of a large rolling wavethe
boat would be pushed some way ahead; but would be soon skilfully
brought to her proper bearings again. Subject to thisand other the
like interruptions now and thena conversation was sustained between
the two parties; but at intervals not without still another
interruption of a very different sort.

Pulling an oar in the Jeroboam's boatwas a man of a singular
appearanceeven in that wild whaling life where individual
notabilities make up all totalities. He was a smallshortyoungish
mansprinkled all over his face with frecklesand wearing redundant
yellow hair. A long-skirtedcabalistically-cut coat of a faded
walnut tinge enveloped him; the overlapping sleeves of which were
rolled up on his wrists. A deepsettledfanatic delirium was in
his eyes.

So soon as this figure had been first descriedStubb 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 Jeroboamand a certain man among her crewsome time
previous when the Pequod spoke the Town-Ho. According to this
account and what was subsequently learnedit 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
Shakerswhere he had been a great prophet; in their crackedsecret
meetings having several times descended from heaven by the way of a
trap-doorannouncing the speedy opening of the seventh vialwhich
he carried in his vest-pocket; butwhichinstead of containing
gunpowderwas supposed to be charged with laudanum. A strange
apostolic whim having seized himhe had left Neskyeuna for
Nantucketwherewith that cunning peculiar to crazinesshe assumed
a steadycommon-sense exteriorand 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 landhis
insanity broke out in a freshet. He announced himself as the
archangel Gabrieland commanded the captain to jump overboard. He
published his manifestowhereby 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
darkdaring play of his sleeplessexcited imaginationand all the
preternatural terrors of real deliriumunited to invest this Gabriel
in the minds of the majority of the ignorant crewwith an atmosphere
of sacredness. Moreoverthey were afraid of him. As such a man
howeverwas not of much practical use in the shipespecially as he
refused to work except when he pleasedthe incredulous captain would
fain have been rid of him; but apprised that that individual's
intention was to land him in the first convenient portthe archangel
forthwith opened all his seals and vials--devoting the ship and all
hands to unconditional perditionin case this intention was carried
out. So strongly did he work upon his disciples among the crewthat
at last in a body they went to the captain and told him if Gabriel
was sent from the shipnot a man of them would remain. He was

therefore forced to relinquish his plan. Nor would they permit
Gabriel to be any way maltreatedsay 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 wasthat the archangel cared little or
nothing for the captain and mates; and since the epidemic had broken
outhe carried a higher hand than ever; declaring that the plague
as he called itwas at his sole command; nor should it be stayed but
according to his good pleasure. The sailorsmostly poor devils
cringedand some of them fawned before him; in obedience to his
instructionssometimes rendering him personal homageas to a god.
Such things may seem incredible; buthowever wondrousthey are
true. Nor is the history of fanatics half so striking in respect to
the measureless self-deception of the fanatic himselfas his
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 bulwarksto
Captain Mayhewwho 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 aheadand its
seethings drowned all speech.

Hast thou seen the White Whale?demanded Ahabwhen 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 momentswhile a
succession of riotous waves rolled bywhich by one of those
occasional caprices of the seas were tumblingnot heaving it.
Meantimethe 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.

When this interlude was overCaptain Mayhew began a dark story
concerning Moby Dick; nothoweverwithout frequent interruptions
from Gabrielwhenever his name was mentionedand the crazy sea that
seemed leagued with him.

It seemed that the Jeroboam had not long left homewhen upon
speaking a whale-shipher people were reliably apprised of the
existence of Moby Dickand the havoc he had made. Greedily sucking
in this intelligenceGabriel solemnly warned the captain against
attacking the White Whalein case the monster should be seen; in his
gibbering insanitypronouncing the White Whale to be no less a being
than the Shaker God incarnated; the Shakers receiving the Bible. But
whensome year or two afterwardsMoby Dick was fairly sighted from
the mast-headsMaceythe chief mateburned with ardour to encounter
him; and the captain himself being not unwilling to let him have the
opportunitydespite all the archangel's denunciations and
forewarningsMacey succeeded in persuading five men to man his boat.
With them he pushed off; andafter much weary pullingand many
perilousunsuccessful onsetshe at last succeeded in getting one
iron fast. MeantimeGabrielascending to the main-royal mast-head
was tossing one arm in frantic gesturesand hurling forth prophecies
of speedy doom to the sacrilegious assailants of his divinity. Now

while Maceythe matewas standing up in his boat's bowand with
all the reckless energy of his tribe was venting his wild
exclamations upon the whaleand essaying to get a fair chance for
his poised lancelo! a broad white shadow rose from the sea; by its
quickfanning motiontemporarily taking the breath out of the
bodies of the oarsmen. Next instantthe luckless mateso full of
furious lifewas smitten bodily into the airand making a long arc
in his descentfell into the sea at the distance of about fifty
yards. Not a chip of the boat was harmednor a hair of any
oarsman's head; but the mate for ever sank.

It is well to parenthesize herethat of the fatal accidents in the
Sperm-Whale Fisherythis kind is perhaps almost as frequent as any.
Sometimesnothing is injured but the man who is thus annihilated;
oftener the boat's bow is knocked offor the thigh-boardin which
the headsman standsis torn from its place and accompanies the body.
But strangest of all is the circumstancethat in more instances
than onewhen the body has been recoverednot a single mark of
violence is discernible; the man being stark dead.

The whole calamitywith the falling form of Maceywas 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 itinstead of only making a general
prophecywhich any one might have doneand 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 narrationAhab put such questions to
himthat the stranger captain could not forbear inquiring whether he
intended to hunt the White Whaleif opportunity should offer. To
which Ahab answered--"Aye." StraightwaythenGabriel once more
started to his feetglaring upon the old manand vehemently
exclaimedwith downward pointed finger--"Thinkthink of the
blasphemer--deadand down there!--beware of the blasphemer's end!"

Ahab stolidly turned aside; then said to MayhewCaptain, 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.

Every whale-ship takes out a goodly number of letters for various
shipswhose delivery to the persons to whom they may be addressed
depends upon the mere chance of encountering them in the four oceans.
Thusmost 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
tumbleddampand covered with a dullspottedgreen mouldin
consequence of being kept in a dark locker of the cabin. Of such a
letterDeath himself might well have been the post-boy.

Can'st not read it?cried Ahab. "Give it meman. Ayeayeit's
but a dim scrawl;--what's this?" As he was studying it outStarbuck
took a long cutting-spade poleand with his knife slightly split the
endto insert the letter thereand in that wayhand it to the
boatwithout its coming any closer to the ship.

MeantimeAhab holding the lettermutteredMr. 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."

Nay, keep it thyself,cried Gabriel to Ahab; "thou art soon going
that way."

Curses throttle thee!yelled Ahab. "Captain Mayhewstand by now
to receive it"; and taking the fatal missive from Starbuck's hands
he caught it in the slit of the poleand reached it over towards the
boat. But as he did sothe oarsmen expectantly desisted from
rowing; the boat drifted a little towards the ship's stern; so that
as if by magicthe letter suddenly ranged along with Gabriel's eager
hand. He clutched it in an instantseized the boat-knifeand
impaling the letter on itsent 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 oarsand in that manner the mutinous boat
rapidly shot away from the Pequod.

Asafter this interludethe seamen resumed their work upon the
jacket of the whalemany strange things were hinted in reference to
this wild affair.


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 hereand 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 backthe 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 Queequegwhose duty it was
as harpooneerto descend upon the monster's back for the special
purpose referred to. But in very many casescircumstances require
that the harpooneer shall remain on the whale till the whole tensing
or stripping operation is concluded. The whalebe it observedlies
almost entirely submergedexcepting the immediate parts operated
upon. So down theresome ten feet below the level of the deckthe
poor harpooneer flounders abouthalf on the whale and half in the
wateras the vast mass revolves like a tread-mill beneath him. On
the occasion in questionQueequeg figured in the Highland costume--a
shirt and socks--in which to my eyesat leasthe appeared to
uncommon advantage; and no one had a better chance to observe himas
will presently be seen.

Being the savage's bowsmanthat isthe 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 sofrom the ship's steep sidedid
I hold Queequeg down there in the seaby what is technically called
in the fishery a monkey-ropeattached to a strong strip of canvas
belted round his waist.

It was a humorously perilous business for both of us. Forbefore we
proceed furtherit must be said that the monkey-rope was fast at
both ends; fast to Queequeg's broad canvas beltand fast to my

narrow leather one. So that for better or for worsewe twofor the
timewere wedded; and should poor Queequeg sink to rise no more
then both usage and honour demandedthat instead of cutting the cord
it should drag me down in his wake. Sothenan 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 motionsI 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. ThereforeI 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 shipwhich would
threaten to jam him--still further ponderingI sayI saw that this
situation of mine was the precise situation of every mortal that
breathes; onlyin most casesheone way or otherhas 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
pillsyou die. Trueyou may say thatby exceeding cautionyou
may possibly escape these and the multitudinous other evil chances of
life. But handle Queequeg's monkey-rope heedfully as I would
sometimes he jerked it sothat I came very near sliding overboard.
Nor could I possibly forget thatdo what I wouldI 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 Stubbin 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 fallfrom 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 nightthe 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 prey as a dead whalethe otherwise
miscellaneously carnivorous shark will seldom touch a man.

Neverthelessit may well be believed that since they have such a
ravenous finger in the pieit is deemed but wise to look sharp to
them. Accordinglybesides the monkey-ropewith 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-spadeswherewith they slaughtered as many sharks as they
could reach. This procedure of theirsto be surewas very
disinterested and benevolent of them. They meant Queequeg's best
happinessI admit; but in their hasty zeal to befriend himand from
the circumstance that both he and the sharks were at times half
hidden by the blood-muddled waterthose indiscreet spades of theirs

would come nearer amputating a leg than a tall. But poor QueequegI
supposestraining and gasping there with that great iron hook--poor
QueequegI supposeonly prayed to his Yojoand gave up his life
into the hands of his gods.

Wellwellmy dear comrade and twin-brotherthought Ias I drew in
and then slacked off the rope to every swell of the sea--what matters
itafter all? Are you not the precious image of each and all of us
men in this whaling world? That unsounded ocean you gasp inis
Life; those sharksyour foes; those spadesyour friends; and what
between sharks and spades you are in a sad pickle and perilpoor

But courage! there is good cheer in store for youQueequeg. For
nowas 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 advancesand 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 Stubbcoming near.
Yes, this must be ginger,peering into the as yet untasted cup.
Then standing as if incredulous for a whilehe calmly walked towards
the astonished steward slowly sayingGinger? 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 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 addednow approaching Starbuckwho had just
come from forward. "Will you look at that kannakinsir; smell of
itif you please." Then watching the mate's countenancehe 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 Starbuckit is poor stuff enough.

Aye, aye, steward,cried Stubbwe'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-Boyit 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 hope I do no wrong, Mr.
Starbuck. It is the captain's orders--grog for the harpooneer on a

Enough,replied Starbuckonly 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 reappearedhe came with a dark flask in one handand a
sort of tea-caddy in the other. The first contained strong spirits
and was handed to Queequeg; the second was Aunt Charity's giftand
that was freely given to the waves.


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 pressand the best we can do now
for the headis to pray heaven the tackles may hold.

Nowduring the past night and forenoonthe Pequod had gradually
drifted into a seawhichby its occasional patches of yellow brit
gave unusual tokens of the vicinity of Right Whalesa 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 alland 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 beheadedto the
surprise of allthe announcement was made that a Right Whale should
be captured that dayif opportunity offered.

Nor was this long wanting. Tall spouts were seen to leeward; and two
boatsStubb's and Flask'swere detached in pursuit. Pulling
further and further awaythey at last became almost invisible to the
men at the mast-head. But suddenly in the distancethey saw a great
heap of tumultuous white waterand soon after news came from aloft
that one or both the boats must be fast. An interval passed and the
boats were in plain sightin the act of being dragged right towards
the ship by the towing whale. So close did the monster come to the
hullthat at first it seemed as if he meant it malice; but suddenly
going down in a maelstromwithin three rods of the plankshe wholly
disappeared from viewas if diving under the keel. "Cutcut!" was
the cry from the ship to the boatswhichfor one instantseemed on
the point of being brought with a deadly dash against the vessel's
side. But having plenty of line yet in the tubsand the whale not
sounding very rapidlythey paid out abundance of ropeand 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 directionand still
plied their oars in anotherthe contending strain threatened to take
them under. But it was only a few feet advance they sought to gain.
And they stuck to it till they did gain it; when instantlya swift
tremor was felt running like lightning along the keelas the
strained linescraping beneath the shipsuddenly rose to view under
her bowssnapping and quivering; and so flinging off its drippings
that the drops fell like bits of broken glass on the waterwhile the
whale beyond also rose to sightand once more the boats were free to
fly. But the fagged whale abated his speedand blindly altering his
coursewent round the stern of the ship towing the two boats after
himso that they performed a complete circuit.

Meantimethey hauled more and more upon their linestill close
flanking him on both sidesStubb answered Flask with lance for
lance; and thus round and round the Pequod the battle wentwhile the
multitudes of sharks that had before swum round the Sperm Whale's

bodyrushed to the fresh blood that was spilledthirstily drinking
at every new gashas the eager Israelites did at the new bursting
fountains that poured from the smitten rock.

At last his spout grew thickand with a frightful roll and vomithe
turned upon his back a corpse.

While the two headsmen were engaged in making fast cords to his
flukesand in other ways getting the mass in readiness for towing
some conversation ensued between them.

I wonder what the old man wants with this lump of foul lard,said
Stubbnot without some disgust at the thought of having to do with
so ignoble a leviathan.

Wants with it?said Flaskcoiling some spare line in the boat's
bowdid 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 knowbut I heard that gamboge ghost of a Fedallah saying
soand 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 chapStubb. Did you ever notice how that tusk of his is a sort
of carved into a snake's headStubb?"

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--"Ayewill I! FlaskI take that Fedallah to be the
devil in disguise. Do you believe that cock and bull story about his
having been stowed away on board ship? He's the devilI say. The
reason why you don't see his tailis because he tucks it up out of
sight; he carries it coiled away in his pocketI guess. Blast him!
now that I think of ithe'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 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 shipbut 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 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; "wellthat's
the figure one; now take all the hoops in the Pequod's holdand
string along in a row with that mastfor oughtsdo 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 duckinganyhow."

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 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

And what will you do with the tail, Stubb?

Do with it? Sell it for an ox whip when we get home;--what else?

Now, do you mean what you say, and have been saying all along,

Mean or not mean, here we are at the ship.

The boats were here hailedto 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; "yesyou'll soon see this right
whale's head hoisted up opposite that parmacetti's."

In good timeFlask's saying proved true. As beforethe Pequod
steeply leaned over towards the sperm whale's headnowby the
counterpoise of both headsshe regained her even keel; though sorely
strainedyou may well believe. Sowhen on one side you hoist in
Locke's headyou go over that way; but nowon the other sidehoist
in Kant's and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus
some minds for ever keep trimming boat. Ohye foolish! throw all
these thunder-heads overboardand then you will float light and

In disposing of the body of a right whalewhen brought alongside the
shipthe same preliminary proceedings commonly take place as in the
case of a sperm whale; onlyin the latter instancethe head is cut
off wholebut in the former the lips and tongue are separately
removed and hoisted on deckwith all the well known black bone
attached to what is called the crown-piece. But nothing like this
in the present casehad 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.

MeantimeFedallah was calmly eyeing the right whale's headand ever
and anon glancing from the deep wrinkles there to the lines in his
own hand. And Ahab chanced so to standthat the Parsee occupied his
shadow; whileif the Parsee's shadow was there at all it seemed only
to blend withand lengthen Ahab's. As the crew toiled on
Laplandish speculations were bandied among themconcerning all these
passing things.


The Sperm Whale's Head--Contrasted View.

Herenoware two great whaleslaying their heads together; let us
join themand lay together our own.

Of the grand order of folio leviathansthe Sperm Whale and the Right
Whale are by far the most noteworthy. They are the only whales
regularly hunted by man. To the Nantucketerthey 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 otherby merely stepping across the
deck:--whereI should like to knowwill you obtain a better chance
to study practical cetology than here?

In the first placeyou 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 ityou involuntarily yield the immense
superiority to himin point of pervading dignity. In the present
instancetoothis dignity is heightened by the pepper and salt
colour of his head at the summitgiving token of advanced age and
large experience. In shorthe is what the fishermen technically
call a "grey-headed whale."

Let us now note what is least dissimilar in these heads--namelythe
two most important organsthe eye and the ear. Far back on the side
of the headand low downnear the angle of either whale's jawif
you narrowly searchyou will at last see a lashless eyewhich you
would fancy to be a young colt's eye; so out of all proportion is it
to the magnitude of the head.

Nowfrom this peculiar sideway position of the whale's eyesit is
plain that he can never see an object which is exactly aheadno more
than he can one exactly astern. In a wordthe position of the
whale's eyes corresponds to that of a man's ears; and you may fancy
for yourselfhow it would fare with youdid 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 youwith dagger uplifted
in broad dayyou would not be able to see himany more than if he
were stealing upon you from behind. In a wordyou would have two
backsso to speak; butat the same timealsotwo fronts (side
fronts): for what is it that makes the front of a man--whatindeed
but his eyes?

Moreoverwhile in most other animals that I can now think ofthe
eyes are so planted as imperceptibly to blend their visual powerso
as to produce one picture and not two to the brain; the peculiar
position of the whale's eyeseffectually divided as they are by many
cubic feet of solid headwhich towers between them like a great
mountain separating two lakes in valleys; thisof coursemust
wholly separate the impressions which each independent organ imparts.
The whalethereforemust 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 mayin effectbe
said to look out on the world from a sentry-box with two joined
sashes for his window. But with the whalethese two sashes are
separately insertedmaking two distinct windowsbut 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. But I must be content with
a hint. So long as a man's eyes are open in the lightthe act of
seeing is involuntary; that ishe cannot then help mechanically
seeing whatever objects are before him. Neverthelessany one's
experience will teach himthat though he can take in an
undiscriminating sweep of things at one glanceit is quite

impossible for himattentivelyand completelyto 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 objectsand surround each
by a circle of profound darkness; thenin order to see one of them
in such a manner as to bring your mind to bear on itthe other will
be utterly excluded from your contemporary consciousness. How is it
thenwith the whale? Trueboth his eyesin themselvesmust
simultaneously act; but is his brain so much more comprehensive
combiningand subtle than man'sthat he can at the same moment of
time attentively examine two distinct prospectsone on one side of
himand the other in an exactly opposite direction? If he canthen
is it as marvellous a thing in himas if a man were able
simultaneously to go through the demonstrations of two distinct
problems in Euclid. Norstrictly investigatedis there any
incongruity in this comparison.

It may be but an idle whimbut it has always seemed to methat the
extraordinary vacillations of movement displayed by some whales when
beset by three or four boats; the timidity and liability to queer
frightsso common to such whales; I think that all this indirectly
proceeds from the helpless perplexity of volitionin which their
divided and diametrically opposite powers of vision must involve

But the ear of the whale is full as curious as the eye. If you are
an entire stranger to their raceyou might hunt over these two heads
for hoursand never discover that organ. The ear has no external
leaf whatever; and into the hole itself you can hardly insert a
quillso wondrously minute is it. It is lodged a little behind the
eye. With respect to their earsthis important difference is to be
observed between the sperm whale and the right. While the ear of
the former has an external openingthat of the latter is entirely
and evenly covered over with a membraneso as to be quite
imperceptible from without.

Is it not curiousthat so vast a being as the whale should see the
world through so small an eyeand hear the thunder through an ear
which is smaller than a hare's? But 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 sightor
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 headthat it may lie bottom up;
thenascending by a ladder to the summithave a peep down the
mouth; and were it not that the body is now completely separated from
itwith a lantern we might descend into the great Kentucky Mammoth
Cave of his stomach. But let us hold on here by this toothand look
about us where we are. What a really beautiful and chaste-looking
mouth! from floor to ceilinglinedor rather papered with a
glistening white membraneglossy as bridal satins.

But come out nowand look at this portentous lower jawwhich seems
like the long narrow lid of an immense snuff-boxwith the hinge at
one endinstead of one side. If you pry it upso as to get it
overheadand expose its rows of teethit seems a terrific
portcullis; and suchalas! it proves to many a poor wight in the
fisheryupon whom these spikes fall with impaling force. But far
more terrible is it to beholdwhen fathoms down in the seayou see
some sulky whalefloating there suspendedwith his prodigious jaw
some fifteen feet longhanging straight down at right-angles with
his bodyfor all the world like a ship's jib-boom. This whale is

not dead; he is only dispirited; out of sortsperhaps;
hypochondriac; and so supinethat the hinges of his jaw have
relaxedleaving him there in that ungainly sort of plighta
reproach to all his tribewho mustno doubtimprecate 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 teethand furnishing a supply of that hard
white whalebone with which the fishermen fashion all sorts of curious
articlesincluding canesumbrella-stocksand handles to

With a longweary hoist the jaw is dragged on boardas if it were
an anchor; and when the proper time comes--some few days after the
other work--QueequegDaggooand Tashtegobeing all accomplished
dentistsare 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 aloftthey drag out these teethas
Michigan oxen drag stumps of old oaks out of wild wood lands. There
are generally forty-two teeth in all; in old whalesmuch worn down
but undecayed; nor filled after our artificial fashion. The jaw is
afterwards sawn into slabsand piled away like joists for building


The Right Whale's Head--Contrasted View.

Crossing the decklet 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 frontwhere it is so broadly
rounded); soat a broad viewthe 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 shoethat old woman of
the nursery talewith the swarming broodmight very comfortably be
lodgedshe and all her progeny.

But as you come nearer to this great head it begins to assume
different aspectsaccording to your point of view. If you stand on
its summit and look at these two F-shaped spoutholesyou would take
the whole head for an enormous bass-violand these spiraclesthe
apertures in its sounding-board. Thenagainif you fix your eye
upon this strangecrestedcomb-like incrustation on the top of the
mass--this greenbarnacled thingwhich the Greenlanders call the
crown,and the Southern fishers the "bonnet" of the Right Whale;
fixing your eyes solely on thisyou would take the head for the
trunk of some huge oakwith a bird's nest in its crotch. At any
ratewhen you watch those live crabs that nestle here on this
bonnetsuch an idea will be almost sure to occur to you; unless
indeedyour 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
seawhose green crown has been put together for him in this
marvellous manner. But if this whale be a kinghe 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 poutby carpenter's
measurementabout twenty feet long and five feet deep; a sulk and

pout that will yield you some 500 gallons of oil and more.

A great pitynowthat 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 coastwhen
earthquakes caused the beach to gape. Over this lipas over a
slippery thresholdwe now slide into the mouth. Upon my word were I
at MackinawI should take this to be the inside of an Indian wigwam.
Good Lord! is this the road that Jonah went? The roof is about
twelve feet highand runs to a pretty sharp angleas if there were
a regular ridge-pole there; while these ribbedarchedhairy sides
present us with those wondroushalf verticalscimetar-shaped slats
of whalebonesay three hundred on a sidewhich depending from the
upper part of the head or crown boneform those Venetian blinds
which have elsewhere been cursorily mentioned. The edges of these
bones are fringed with hairy fibresthrough which the Right Whale
strains the waterand in whose intricacies he retains the small
fishwhen openmouthed he goes through the seas of brit in feeding
time. In the central blinds of boneas they stand in their natural
orderthere are certain curious markscurveshollowsand ridges
whereby some whalemen calculate the creature's ageas the age of an
oak by its circular rings. Though the certainty of this criterion is
far from demonstrableyet it has the savor of analogical
probability. At any rateif we yield to itwe must grant a far
greater age to the Right Whale than at first glance will seem

In old timesthere seem to have prevailed the most curious fancies
concerning these blinds. One voyager in Purchas calls them the
wondrous "whiskers" inside of the whale's mouth;* anotherhogs'
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 CHOPwhich 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 moustacheconsisting 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

As every one knowsthese 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 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.

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.


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 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 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 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?


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


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, 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 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 Daggoowho amid the general consternation
first came to his senses. "Swing the bucket this way!" and putting
one foot into itso as the better to secure his slippery hand-hold
on the whip itselfthe hoisters ran him high up to the top of the
headalmost before Tashtego could have reached its interior bottom.
Meantimethere was a terrible tumult. Looking over the sidethey
saw the before lifeless head throbbing and heaving just below the
surface of the seaas 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 instantwhile Daggooon the summit of the headwas
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 allone of the two enormous hooks suspending the head tore
outand with a vast vibration the enormous mass sideways swungtill
the drunk ship reeled and shook as if smitten by an iceberg. The one
remaining hookupon which the entire strain now dependedseemed
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 Daggoobut with one
hand holding on to the heavy tacklesso that if the head should
drophe would still remain suspended; the negro having cleared the
foul linerammed down the bucket into the now collapsed well
meaning that the buried harpooneer should grasp itand so be hoisted

In heaven's name, man,cried Stubbare 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

Almost in the same instantwith a thunder-boomthe enormous mass
dropped into the sealike Niagara's Table-Rock into the whirlpool;
the suddenly relieved hull rolled away from itto far down her
glittering copper; and all caught their breathas half swinging--now
over the sailors' headsand now over the water--Daggoothrough a
thick mist of spraywas dimly beheld clinging to the pendulous
tackleswhile poorburied-alive Tashtego was sinking utterly down
to the bottom of the sea! But hardly had the blinding vapour cleared
awaywhen a naked figure with a boarding-sword in his handwas for
one swift moment seen hovering over the bulwarks. The nexta loud
splash announced that my brave Queequeg had dived to the rescue. One
packed rush was made to the sideand every eye counted every ripple
as moment followed momentand 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 Daggooall at oncefrom his now quietswinging
perch overhead; and looking further off from the sidewe saw an arm
thrust upright from the blue waves; a sight strange to seeas an arm
thrust forth from the grass over a grave.

Both! both!--it is both!--cried Daggoo again with a joyful shout;
and soon afterQueequeg was seen boldly striking out with one hand
and with the other clutching the long hair of the Indian. Drawn into
the waiting boatthey were quickly brought to the deck; but Tashtego
was long in coming toand Queequeg did not look very brisk.

Nowhow had this noble rescue been accomplished? Whydiving after
the slowly descending headQueequeg with his keen sword had made
side lunges near its bottomso as to scuttle a large hole there;
then dropping his swordhad thrust his long arm far inwards and
upwardsand so hauled out poor Tash by the head. He averredthat
upon first thrusting in for hima leg was presented; but well
knowing that that was not as it ought to beand might occasion great
trouble;--he had thrust back the legand by a dexterous heave and
tosshad wrought a somerset upon the Indian; so that with the next
trialhe came forth in the good old way--head foremost. As for the
great head itselfthat was doing as well as could be expected.

And thusthrough the courage and great skill in obstetrics of
Queequegthe deliveranceor ratherdelivery of Tashtegowas
successfully accomplishedin the teethtooof 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 boxingriding and rowing.

I know that this queer adventure of the Gay-Header's will be sure to
seem incredible to some landsmenthough they themselves may have
either seen or heard of some one's falling into a cistern ashore; an
accident which not seldom happensand with much less reason too than
the Indian'sconsidering the exceeding slipperiness of the curb of
the Sperm Whale's well.

Butperadventureit may be sagaciously urgedhow is this? We
thought the tissuedinfiltrated head of the Sperm Whalewas 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 allbut I have ye; for at the time poor Tash
fell inthe case had been nearly emptied of its lighter contents
leaving little but the dense tendinous wall of the well--a double
weldedhammered substanceas I have before saidmuch heavier than
the sea waterand 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 itso that it sank very slowly and
deliberately indeedaffording Queequeg a fair chance for performing
his agile obstetrics on the runas you may say. Yesit was a
running deliveryso it was.

Nowhad Tashtego perished in that headit had been a very precious
perishing; smothered in the very whitest and daintiest of fragrant
spermaceti; coffinedhearsedand 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-hunterwho seeking
honey in the crotch of a hollow treefound such exceeding store of
itthat leaning too far overit sucked him inso that he died
embalmed. How manythink yehave likewise fallen into Plato's
honey headand sweetly perished there?


The Prairie.

To scan the lines of his faceor 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
Gibraltaror for Gall to have mounted a ladder and manipulated the
Dome of the Pantheon. Stillin that famous work of hisLavater
not only treats of the various faces of menbut also attentively
studies the faces of horsesbirdsserpentsand 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.
Thereforethough I am but ill qualified for a pioneerin the
application of these two semi-sciences to the whaleI will do my
endeavor. I try all things; I achieve what I can.

Physiognomically regardedthe Sperm Whale is an anomalous creature.
He has no proper nose. And since the nose is the central and most
conspicuous of the features; and since it perhaps most modifies and
finally controls their combined expression; hence it would seem that
its entire absenceas an external appendagemust very largely

affect the countenance of the whale. For as in landscape gardening
a spirecupolamonumentor tower of some sortis 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 Joveand what a sorry
remainder! NeverthelessLeviathan is of so mighty a magnitudeall
his proportions are so statelythat the same deficiency which in the
sculptured Jove were hideousin him is no blemish at all. Nayit
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-boatyour noble conceptions of him are never
insulted by the reflection that he has a nose to be pulled. A
pestilent conceitwhich so often will insist upon obtruding even
when beholding the mightiest royal beadle on his throne.

In some particularsperhaps the most imposing physiognomical view
to be had of the Sperm Whaleis that of the full front of his head.
This aspect is sublime.

In thoughta fine human brow is like the East when troubled with
the morning. In the repose of the pasturethe curled brow of the
bull has a touch of the grand in it. Pushing heavy cannon up
mountain defilesthe 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 creaturesnay in man himselfvery 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 highand descend so lowthat the eyes themselves seem clear
eternaltideless mountain lakes; and all above them in the forehead's
wrinklesyou seem to track the antlered thoughts descending there to
drinkas the Highland hunters track the snow prints of the deer.
But in the great Sperm Whalethis high and mighty god-like dignity
inherent in the brow is so immensely amplifiedthat gazing on itin
that full front viewyou 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 noseeyesearsor mouth; no face; he has noneproper; nothing
but that one broad firmament of a foreheadpleated with riddles;
dumbly lowering with the doom of boatsand shipsand men. Norin
profiledoes this wondrous brow diminish; though that way viewed its
grandeur does not domineer upon you so. In profileyou plainly
perceive that horizontalsemi-crescentic depression in the
forehead's middlewhichin manis Lavater's mark of genius.

But how? Genius in the Sperm Whale? Has the Sperm Whale ever
written a bookspoken a speech? Nohis 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 Worldhe would have been
deified by their child-magian thoughts. They deified the crocodile
of the Nilebecause the crocodile is tongueless; and the Sperm Whale
has no tongueor at least it is so exceedingly smallas to be
incapable of protrusion. If hereafter any highly culturedpoetical
nation shall lure back to their birth-rightthe merry May-day gods
of old; and livingly enthrone them again in the now egotistical sky;
in the now unhaunted hill; then be sureexalted 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. Physiognomylike every other human scienceis but a
passing fable. If thenSir William Joneswho read in thirty
languagescould not read the simplest peasant's face in its

profounder and more subtle meaningshow 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.


The Nut.

If the Sperm Whale be physiognomically a Sphinxto the phrenologist
his brain seems that geometrical circle which it is impossible to

In the full-grown creature the skull will measure at least twenty
feet in length. Unhinge the lower jawand 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 upand 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 outworkslike the innermost citadel within the amplified
fortifications of Quebec. So like a choice casket is it secreted in
himthat I have known some whalemen who peremptorily deny that the
Sperm Whale has any other brain than that palpable semblance of one
formed by the cubic-yards of his sperm magazine. Lying in strange
foldscoursesand convolutionsto their apprehensionsit 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 plainthenthat phrenologically the head of this Leviathan
in the creature's living intact stateis an entire delusion. As for
his true brainyou can then see no indications of itnor feel any.
The whalelike all things that are mightywears 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 endwhich is the high endyou will be struck by its
resemblance to the human skullbeheld in the same situationand
from the same point of view. Indeedplace 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 summitin phrenological phrase you
would say--This man had no self-esteemand no veneration. And by
those negationsconsidered along with the affirmative fact of his
prodigious bulk and poweryou can best form to yourself the truest
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 chartedthen I have
another idea for you. If you attentively regard almost any
quadruped's spineyou will be struck with the resemblance of its
vertebrae to a strung necklace of dwarfed skullsall bearing
rudimental resemblance to the skull proper. It is a German conceit
that the vertebrae are absolutely undeveloped skulls. But the
curious external resemblanceI 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 slainand with the vertebrae of

which he was inlayingin a sort of basso-relievothe beaked prow
of his canoe. NowI 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 skullwhoever you are. A thin
joist of a spine never yet upheld a full and noble soul. I rejoice
in my spineas in the firm audacious staff of that flag which I
fling half out to the world.

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
acrossbeing eight in heightand of a triangular figure with the
base downwards. As it passes through the remaining vertebrae the
canal tapers in sizebut for a considerable distance remains of
large capacity. Nowof coursethis 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 morefor
many feet after emerging from the brain's cavitythe spinal cord
remains of an undecreasing girthalmost equal to that of the brain.
Under all these circumstanceswould it be unreasonable to survey and
map out the whale's spine phrenologically? Forviewed in this
lightthe 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 phrenologistsI
would merely assume the spinal theory for a momentin reference to
the Sperm Whale's hump. This august humpif I mistake notrises
over one of the larger vertebraeand isthereforein some sort
the outer convex mould of it. From its relative situation thenI
should call this high hump the organ of firmness or indomitableness
in the Sperm Whale. And that the great monster is indomitableyou
will yet have reason to know.


The Pequod Meets The Virgin.

The predestinated day arrivedand we duly met the ship Jungfrau
Derick De Deermasterof Bremen.

At one time the greatest whaling people in the worldthe Dutch and
Germans are now among the least; but here and there at very wide
intervals of latitude and longitudeyou still occasionally meet with
their flag in the Pacific.

For some reasonthe Jungfrau seemed quite eager to pay her respects.
While yet some distance from the Pequodshe rounded toand
dropping a boather captain was impelled towards usimpatiently
standing in the bows instead of the stern.

What has he in his hand there?cried Starbuckpointing to
something wavingly held by the German. "Impossible!--a lamp-feeder!"

Not that,said Stubbno, 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.

Go along with you,cried Flaskit'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-groundand however much it may invertedly contradict the
old proverb about carrying coals to Newcastleyet 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 deckAhab abruptly accosted himwithout at all
heeding what he had in his hand; but in his broken lingothe German
soon evinced his complete ignorance of the White Whale; immediately
turning the conversation to his lamp-feeder and oil canwith some
remarks touching his having to turn into his hammock at night in
profound darkness--his last drop of Bremen oil being goneand 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 isan empty one)well
deserving the name of Jungfrau or the Virgin.

His necessities suppliedDerick departed; but he had not gained his
ship's sidewhen whales were almost simultaneously raised from the
mast-heads of both vessels; and so eager for the chase was Derick
that without pausing to put his oil-can and lamp-feeder aboardhe
slewed round his boat and made after the leviathan lamp-feeders.

Nowthe game having risen to leewardhe and the other three German
boats that soon followed himhad considerably the start of the
Pequod's keels. There were eight whalesan average pod. Aware of
their dangerthey were going all abreast with great speed straight
before the windrubbing their flanks as closely as so many spans of
horses in harness. They left a greatwide wakeas though
continually unrolling a great wide parchment upon the sea.

Full in this rapid wakeand many fathoms in the rearswam a huge
humped old bullwhich by his comparatively slow progressas well as
by the unusual yellowish incrustations overgrowing himseemed
afflicted with the jaundiceor some other infirmity. Whether this
whale belonged to the pod in advanceseemed questionable; for it is
not customary for such venerable leviathans to be at all social.
Neverthelesshe stuck to their wakethough indeed their back water
must have retarded himbecause the white-bone or swell at his broad
muzzle was a dashed onelike the swell formed when two hostile
currents meet. His spout was shortslowand laborious; coming
forth with a choking sort of gushand spending itself in torn
shredsfollowed by strange subterranean commotions in himwhich
seemed to have egress at his other buried extremitycausing the
waters behind him to upbubble.

Who's got some paregoric?said Stubbhe 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 horsescareensburiesrollsand wallows on her
way; so did this old whale heave his aged bulkand now and then
partly turning over on his cumbrous rib-endsexpose the cause of his
devious wake in the unnatural stump of his starboard fin. Whether he
had lost that fin in battleor had been born without itit were
hard to say.

Only wait a bit, old chap, and I'll give ye a sling for that wounded

arm,cried cruel Flaskpointing to the whale-line near him.

Mind he don't sling thee with it,cried Starbuck. "Give wayor
the German will have him."

With one intent all the combined rival boats were pointed for this
one fishbecause not only was he the largestand therefore the most
valuable whalebut he was nearest to themand the other whales were
going with such great velocitymoreoveras 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 chasethough every moment neared by his
foreign rivals. The only thing they fearedwasthat from being
already so nigh to his markhe 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 caseand
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 waygreyhounds! 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 brandythento the best man. Come
why don't some of 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 Lordthe mast
there's budding. This won't doboys. Look at that Yarman! The
short and long of it ismenwill ye spit fire or not?"

Oh! see the suds he makes!cried Flaskdancing up and down--"What
a hump--OhDO pile on the beef--lays like a log! Oh! my ladsDO
spring--slap-jacks and quahogs for supperyou knowmy lads--baked
clams and muffins--ohDODOspring--he's a hundred barreller--don't
lose him now--don't ohDON'T!--see that Yarman--Oh
won't ye pull for your duffmy lads--such a sog! such a sogger!
Don't ye love sperm? There goes three thousand dollarsmen!--a
bank!--a whole bank! The bank of England!--OhDODODO!--What's
that Yarman about now?"

At this moment Derick was in the act of pitching his lamp-feeder at
the advancing boatsand also his oil-can; perhaps with the double
view of retarding his rivals' wayand at the same time economically
accelerating his own by the momentary impetus of the backward toss.

The unmannerly Dutch dogger!cried Stubb. "Pull nowmenlike
fifty thousand line-of-battle-ship loads of red-haired devils. What
d'ye sayTashtego; 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.

Fiercelybut evenly incited by the taunts of the Germanthe
Pequod's three boats now began ranging almost abreast; andso
disposedmomentarily neared him. In that fineloosechivalrous
attitude of the headsman when drawing near to his preythe three
mates stood up proudlyoccasionally backing the after oarsman with
an exhilarating cry ofThere she slides, now! Hurrah for the
white-ash breeze! Down with the Yarman! Sail over him!

But so decided an original start had Derick hadthat spite of all
their gallantryhe would have proved the victor in this racehad
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-ashand whilein consequenceDerick's
boat was nigh to capsizingand he thundering away at his men in a
mighty rage;--that was a good time for StarbuckStubband Flask.
With a shoutthey took a mortal start forwardsand slantingly
ranged up on the German's quarter. An instant moreand all four
boats were diagonically in the whale's immediate wakewhile
stretching from themon both sideswas the foaming swell that he

It was a terrificmost pitiableand maddening sight. The whale was
now going head outand 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 handnow to thathe yawed in his faltering
flightand still at every billow that he brokehe spasmodically
sank in the seaor sideways rolled towards the sky his one beating
fin. So have I seen a bird with clipped wing making affrighted
broken circles in the airvainly striving to escape the piratical
hawks. But the bird has a voiceand with plaintive cries will make
known her fear; but the fear of this vast dumb brute of the seawas
chained up and enchanted in him; he had no voicesave that choking
respiration through his spiracleand this made the sight of him
unspeakably pitiable; while stillin his amazing bulkportcullis
jawand omnipotent tailthere 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 advantageand rather than be thus foiled of his game
Derick chose to hazard what to him must have seemed a most unusually
long dartere the last chance would for ever escape.

But no sooner did his harpooneer stand up for the strokethan all
three tigers--QueequegTashtegoDaggoo--instinctively sprang to
their feetand standing in a diagonal rowsimultaneously pointed
their barbs; and darted over the head of the German harpooneertheir
three Nantucket irons entered the whale. Blinding vapours of foam and
white-fire! The three boatsin the first fury of the whale's
headlong rushbumped the German's aside with such forcethat both
Derick and his baffled harpooneer were spilled outand sailed over
by the three flying keels.

Don't be afraid, my butter-boxes,cried Stubbcasting 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 dogsyou
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 flyboyswhen you fasten to him that way; and there's
danger of being pitched out toowhen 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!"

But the monster's run was a brief one. Giving a sudden gasphe
tumultuously sounded. With a grating rushthe 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 linesthat 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 boatswhence the three ropes went straight down into the
blue--the gunwales of the bows were almost even with the waterwhile
the three sterns tilted high in the air. And the whale soon ceasing
to soundfor some time they remained in that attitudefearful of
expending more linethough the position was a little ticklish. But
though boats have been taken down and lost in this wayyet 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 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 holdthe spearthe dart
nor the habergeon: he esteemeth iron as 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 tailLeviathan had run his head under the mountains of the sea
to hide him from the Pequod's fish-spears!

In that sloping afternoon sunlightthe shadows that the three boats
sent down beneath the surfacemust 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

Stand by, men; he stirs,cried Starbuckas the three lines
suddenly vibrated in the waterdistinctly conducting upwards to
themas by magnetic wiresthe 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 bowsthe
boats gave a sudden bounce upwardsas a small icefield willwhen a
dense herd of white bears are scared from it into the sea.

Haul in! Haul in!cried Starbuck again; "he's rising."

The linesof whichhardly an instant beforenot one hand's breadth
could have been gainedwere now in long quick coils flung back all
dripping into the boatsand soon 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

veinswhereby when woundedthe 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-vesselsso that when pierced even by so small a point
as a harpoona 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 surfacehis life may
be said to pour from him in incessant streams. Yet so vast is the
quantity of blood in himand so distant and numerous its interior
fountainsthat he will keep thus bleeding and bleeding for a
considerable period; even as in a drought a river will flowwhose
source is in the well-springs of far-off and undiscernible hills.
Even nowwhen the boats pulled upon this whaleand perilously drew
over his swaying flukesand the lances were darted into himthey
were followed by steady jets from the new made woundwhich kept
continually playingwhile the natural spout-hole in his head was
only at intervalshowever rapidsending its affrighted moisture
into the air. From this last vent no blood yet camebecause no
vital part of him had thus far been struck. His lifeas they
significantly call itwas untouched.

As the boats now more closely surrounded himthe whole upper part of
his formwith much of it that is ordinarily submergedwas plainly
revealed. His eyesor rather the places where his eyes had been
were beheld. As strange misgrown masses gather in the knot-holes of
the noblest oaks when prostrateso from the points which the whale's
eyes had once occupiednow protruded blind bulbshorribly pitiable
to see. But pity there was none. For all his old ageand his one
armand his blind eyeshe must die the death and be murderedin
order to light the gay bridals and other merry-makings of menand
also to illuminate the solemn churches that preach unconditional
inoffensiveness by all to all. Still rolling in his bloodat last
he partially disclosed a strangely discoloured bunch or protuberance
the size of a bushellow down on the flank.

A nice spot,cried Flask; "just let me prick him there once."

Avast!cried Starbuckthere's no need of that!

But humane Starbuck was too late. At the instant of the dart an
ulcerous jet shot from this cruel woundand goaded by it into more
than sufferable anguishthe whale now spouting thick bloodwith
swift fury blindly darted at the craftbespattering them and their
glorying crews all over with showers of gorecapsizing Flask's boat
and marring the bows. It was his death stroke. Forby this time
so spent was he by loss of bloodthat he helplessly rolled away from
the wreck he had made; lay panting on his sideimpotently flapped
with his stumped finthen over and over slowly revolved like a
waning world; turned up the white secrets of his belly; lay like a
logand died. It was most piteousthat last expiring spout. As
when by unseen hands the water is gradually drawn off from some
mighty fountainand with half-stifled melancholy gurglings the
spray-column lowers and lowers to the ground--so the last long dying
spout of the whale.

Soonwhile the crews were awaiting the arrival of the shipthe body
showed symptoms of sinking with all its treasures unrifled.
Immediatelyby Starbuck's orderslines were secured to it at
different pointsso that ere long every boat was a buoy; the sunken
whale being suspended a few inches beneath them by the cords. By
very heedful managementwhen the ship drew nighthe whale was
transferred to her sideand was strongly secured there by the
stiffest fluke-chainsfor it was plain that unless artificially
upheldthe body would at once sink to the bottom.

It so chanced that almost upon first cutting into him with the
spadethe entire length of a corroded harpoon was found imbedded in
his fleshon the lower part of the bunch before described. But as
the stumps of harpoons are frequently found in the dead bodies of
captured whaleswith the flesh perfectly healed around themand no
prominence of any kind to denote their place; thereforethere 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 himnot far from
the buried ironthe 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
discoveriesby the ship's being unprecedentedly dragged over
sideways to the seaowing to the body's immensely increasing
tendency to sink. HoweverStarbuckwho had the ordering of
affairshung on to it to the last; hung on to it so resolutely
indeedthat when at length the ship would have been capsizedif
still persisting in locking arms with the body; thenwhen the
command was given to break clear from itsuch was the immovable
strain upon the timber-heads to which the fluke-chains and cables
were fastenedthat 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 placesby the unnatural
dislocation. In vain handspikes and crows were brought to bear upon
the immovable fluke-chainsto pry them adrift from the timberheads;
and so low had the whale now settled that the submerged ends could
not be at all approachedwhile every moment whole tons of
ponderosity seemed added to the sinking bulkand the ship seemed on
the point of going over.

Hold on, hold on, won't ye?cried Stubb to the bodydon'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 Queequegand seizing the carpenter's heavy
hatchethe leaned out of a portholeand steel to ironbegan
slashing at the largest fluke-chains. But a few strokesfull of
sparkswere givenwhen the exceeding strain effected the rest.
With a terrific snapevery fastening went adrift; the ship righted
the carcase sank.

Nowthis 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
buoyancywith its side or belly considerably elevated above the
surface. If the only whales that thus sank were oldmeagreand
broken-hearted creaturestheir 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 sinkingconsequent upon this absence of buoyant matter in
him. But it is not so. For young whalesin the highest healthand
swelling with noble aspirationsprematurely cut off in the warm
flush and May of lifewith all their panting lard about them; even
these brawnybuoyant heroes do sometimes sink.

Be it saidhoweverthat 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 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 whereafter the lapse of many hours or several days
the sunken whale again risesmore 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
Whalingon soundingsamong the Bays of New Zealandwhen a Right
Whale gives token of sinkingthey fasten buoys to himwith plenty
of rope; so that when the body has gone downthey 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-headsannouncing that the Jungfrau was again
lowering her boats; though the only spout in sight was that of a
Fin-Backbelonging to the species of uncapturable whalesbecause of
its incredible power of swimming. Neverthelessthe Fin-Back's spout
is so similar to the Sperm Whale'sthat by unskilful fishermen it is
often mistaken for it. And consequently Derick and all his host were
now in valiant chase of this unnearable brute. The Virgin crowding
all sailmade after her four young keelsand thus they all
disappeared far to leewardstill in boldhopeful chase.

Oh! many are the Fin-Backsand many are the Dericksmy friend.


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 whalingand 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 heroesprophets of all sortswho one way
or other have shed distinction upon itI am transported with the
reflection that I myself belongthough but subordinatelyto so
emblazoned a fraternity.

The gallant Perseusa son of Jupiterwas the first whaleman; and to
the eternal honour of our calling be it saidthat the first whale
attacked by our brotherhood was not killed with any sordid intent.
Those were the knightly days of our professionwhen we only bore
arms to succor the distressedand not to fill men's lamp-feeders.
Every one knows the fine story of Perseus and Andromeda; how the
lovely Andromedathe daughter of a kingwas tied to a rock on the
sea-coastand as Leviathan was in the very act of carrying her off
Perseusthe prince of whalemenintrepidly advancingharpooned the
monsterand delivered and married the maid. It was an admirable
artistic exploitrarely 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
Joppanow Jaffaon the Syrian coastin one of the Pagan temples
there stood for many ages the vast skeleton of a whalewhich 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 storyis this: it was
from Joppa that Jonah set sail.

Akin to the adventure of Perseus and Andromeda--indeedby 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 togetherand often stand for each other. "Thou art as a
lion of the watersand 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, 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 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 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 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


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. Butto thisBishop Jebb's anticipative
answer is ready. It is not necessaryhints the Bishopthat we
consider Jonah as tombed in the whale's bellybut as temporarily
lodged in some part of his mouth. And this seems reasonable enough
in the good Bishop. For trulythe Right Whale's mouth would
accommodate a couple of whist-tablesand comfortably seat all the
players. PossiblytooJonah might have ensconced himself in a
hollow tooth; buton second thoughtsthe 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 prophetwas something obscurely
in reference to his incarcerated body and the whale's gastric juices.
But this objection likewise falls to the groundbecause 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 tentsand crawled into them.
Besidesit has been divined by other continental commentatorsthat
when Jonah was thrown overboard from the Joppa shiphe straightway
effected his escape to another vessel near bysome vessel with a
whale for a figure-head; andI would addpossibly 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 merely
meant a life-preserver--an inflated bag of wind--which the endangered

prophet swam toand so was saved from a watery doom. Poor
Sag-Harborthereforeseems worsted all round. But he had still
another reason for his want of faith. It was thisif I remember
right: Jonah was swallowed by the whale in the Mediterranean Seaand
after three days he was vomited up somewhere within three days'
journey of Nineveha city on the Tigrisvery 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 Mediterraneanand another
passage up the Persian Gulf and Red Seasuch a supposition would
involve the complete circumnavigation of all Africa in three days
not to speak of the Tigris watersnear the site of Ninevehbeing
too shallow for any whale to swim in. Besidesthis 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 discovererand so make modern history a liar.

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 foolishimpious
prideand abominabledevilish rebellion against the reverend
clergy. For by a Portuguese Catholic priestthis 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.
Besidesto this daythe highly enlightened Turks devoutly believe
in the historical story of Jonah. And some three centuries agoan
English traveller in old Harris's Voyagesspeaks of a Turkish Mosque
built in honour of Jonahin which Mosque was a miraculous lamp that
burnt without any oil.



To make them run easily and swiftlythe axles of carriages are
anointed; and for much the same purposesome 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 harmit may
possibly be of no contemptible advantage; considering that oil and
water are hostile; that oil is a sliding thingand that the object
in view is to make the boat slide bravely. Queequeg believed
strongly in anointing his boatand one morning not long after the
German ship Jungfrau disappearedtook more than customary pains in
that occupation; crawling under its bottomwhere it hung over the
sideand 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 themthey turned and fled with swift precipitancy; a disordered
flightas of Cleopatra's barges from Actium.

Neverthelessthe boats pursuedand Stubb's was foremost. By great
exertionTashtego at last succeeded in planting one iron; but the
stricken whalewithout at all soundingstill continued his

horizontal flightwith added fleetness. Such unintermitted
strainings upon the planted iron must sooner or later inevitably
extract it. It became imperative to lance the flying whaleor be
content to lose him. But to haul the boat up to his flank was
impossiblehe swam so fast and furious. What then remained?

Of all the wondrous devices and dexteritiesthe sleights of hand and
countless subtletiesto which the veteran whaleman is so often
forcednone exceed that fine manoeuvre with the lance called
pitchpoling. Small swordor broad swordin 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
rockingjerking boatunder extreme headway. Steel and wood
includedthe entire spear is some ten or twelve feet in length; the
staff is much slighter than that of the harpoonand also of a
lighter material--pine. It is furnished with a small rope called a
warpof considerable lengthby which it can be hauled back to the
hand after darting.

But before going furtherit is important to mention herethat
though the harpoon may be pitchpoled in the same way with the lance
yet it is seldom done; and when doneis still less frequently
successfulon account of the greater weight and inferior length of
the harpoon as compared with the lancewhich in effect become
serious drawbacks. As a general thingthereforeyou must first
get fast to a whalebefore any pitchpoling comes into play.

Look now at Stubb; a man who from his humorousdeliberate coolness
and equanimity in the direst emergencieswas specially qualified to
excel in pitchpoling. Look at him; he stands upright in the tossed
bow of the flying boat; wrapt in fleecy foamthe towing whale is
forty feet ahead. Handling the long lance lightlyglancing twice or
thrice along its length to see if it be exactly straightStubb
whistlingly gathers up the coil of the warp in one handso as to
secure its free end in his graspleaving the rest unobstructed.
Then holding the lance full before his waistband's middlehe levels
it at the whale; whencovering him with ithe steadily depresses
the butt-end in his handthereby elevating the point till the weapon
stands fairly balanced upon his palmfifteen feet in the air. He
minds you somewhat of a jugglerbalancing a long staff on his chin.
Next moment with a rapidnameless impulsein a superb lofty arch the
bright steel spans the foaming distanceand quivers in the life spot
of the whale. Instead of sparkling waterhe 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 nowit
were old Orleans whiskeyor old Ohioor unspeakable old
Monongahela! ThenTashtegoladI'd have ye hold a canakin to the
jetand we'd drink round it! Yeaverilyhearts alivewe'd brew
choice punch in the spread of his spout-hole thereand from that
live punch-bowl quaff the living stuff."

Again and again to such gamesome talkthe dexterous dart is
repeatedthe spear returning to its master like a greyhound held in
skilful leash. The agonized whale goes into his flurry; the tow-line
is slackenedand the pitchpoler dropping asternfolds his hands
and mutely watches the monster die.


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
seaand sprinkling and mistifying the gardens of the deepas with
so many sprinkling or mistifying pots; and that for some centuries
backthousands of hunters should have been close by the fountain of
the whalewatching these sprinklings and spoutings--that all this
should beand yetthat down to this blessed minute (fifteen and a
quarter minutes past one o'clock P.M. of this sixteenth day of
DecemberA.D. 1851)it should still remain a problemwhether these
spoutings areafter allreally wateror nothing but vapour--this is
surely a noteworthy thing.

Let usthenlook at this matteralong with some interesting items
contingent. Every one knows that by the peculiar cunning of their
gillsthe finny tribes in general breathe the air which at all times
is combined with the element in which they swim; hencea herring or
a cod might live a centuryand never once raise its head above the
surface. But owing to his marked internal structure which gives him
regular lungslike a human being'sthe 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 mouthforin his ordinary
attitudethe Sperm Whale's mouth is buried at least eight feet
beneath the surface; and what is still morehis windpipe has no
connexion with his mouth. Nohe breathes through his spiracle
alone; and this is on the top of his head.

If I saythat in any creature breathing is only a function
indispensable to vitalityinasmuch as it withdraws from the air a
certain elementwhich being subsequently brought into contact with
the blood imparts to the blood its vivifying principleI do not
think I shall err; though I may possibly use some superfluous
scientific words. Assume itand it follows that if all the blood in
a man could be aerated with one breathhe might then seal up his
nostrils and not fetch another for a considerable time. That is to
sayhe would then live without breathing. Anomalous as it may seem
this is precisely the case with the whalewho systematically lives
by intervalshis full hour and more (when at the bottom) without
drawing a single breathor so much as in any way inhaling a particle
of air; forrememberhe 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 vesselswhich vessels
when he quits the surfaceare completely distended with oxygenated
blood. So that for an hour or morea thousand fathoms in the sea
he carries a surplus stock of vitality in himjust 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 trueseems the more cogent to mewhen I
consider the otherwise inexplicable obstinacy of that leviathan in
HAVING HIS SPOUTINGS OUTas the fishermen phrase it. This is what I
mean. If unmolestedupon rising to the surfacethe Sperm Whale
will continue there for a period of time exactly uniform with all his
other unmolested risings. Say he stays eleven minutesand jets
seventy timesthat isrespires seventy breaths; then whenever he
rises againhe will be sure to have his seventy breaths over again
to a minute. Nowif after he fetches a few breaths you alarm him
so that he soundshe will be always dodging up again to make good
his regular allowance of air. And not till those seventy breaths are
toldwill he finally go down to stay out his full term below.
Remarkhoweverthat in different individuals these rates are
different; but in any one they are alike. Nowwhy should the whale

thus insist upon having his spoutings outunless it be to replenish
his reservoir of airere descending for good? How obvious is it
toothat 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 caughtwhen sailing a thousand fathoms
beneath the sunlight. Not so much thy skillthenO hunteras the
great necessities that strike the victory to thee!

In manbreathing is incessantly going on--one breath only serving
for two or three pulsations; so that whatever other business he has
to attend towaking or sleepingbreathe he mustor die he will.
But the Sperm Whale only breathes about one seventh or Sunday of his

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 elementsit could not be expected to 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 isneverthelessthat the Sperm
Whale has no proper olfactories. But what does he want of them? No
rosesno violetsno Cologne-water in the sea.

Furthermoreas his windpipe solely opens into the tube of his
spouting canaland 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 watertherefore the
whale has no voice; unless you insult him by sayingthat when he so
strangely rumbleshe talks through his nose. But then againwhat
has the whale to say? Seldom have I known any profound being that
had anything to say to this worldunless forced to stammer out
something by way of getting a living. Oh! happy that the world is
such an excellent listener!

Nowthe spouting canal of the Sperm Whalechiefly intended as it is
for the conveyance of airand for several feet laid along
horizontallyjust beneath the upper surface of his headand 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 is also a water-pipe; in other words
whether the spout of the Sperm Whale is the mere vapour of the exhaled
breathor whether that exhaled breath is mixed with water taken in
at the mouthand 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 bewhen in feeding he accidentally takes in water.
But the Sperm Whale's food is far beneath the surfaceand there he
cannot spout even if he would. Besidesif you regard him very
closelyand time him with your watchyou will find that when
unmolestedthere 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 sirin 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 spoutyou might
almost stand in itand 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 any water falls
from itwhenalwayswhen you are close enough to a whale to get a
close view of his spouthe is in a prodigious commotionthe water
cascading all around him. And if at such times you should think that
you really perceived drops of moisture in the spouthow 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 fissurewhich is countersunk into the summit of the
whale's head? For even when tranquilly swimming through the mid-day
sea in a calmwith his elevated hump sun-dried as a dromedary's in
the desert; even thenthe whale always carries a small basin of
water on his headas 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 itand putting his face in it. You cannot go with your
pitcher to this fountain and fill itand bring it away. For even
when coming into slight contact with the outervapoury shreds of the
jetwhich will often happenyour skin will feverishly smartfrom
the acridness of the thing so touching it. And I know onewho
coming into still closer contact with the spoutwhether with some
scientific object in viewor otherwiseI cannot saythe skin
peeled off from his cheek and arm. Whereforeamong whalementhe
spout is deemed poisonous; they try to evade it. Another thing; I
have heard it saidand I do not much doubt itthat if the jet is
fairly spouted into your eyesit will blind you. The wisest thing
the investigator can do thenit seems to meis to let this deadly
spout alone.

Stillwe can hypothesizeeven if we cannot prove and establish. My
hypothesis is this: that the spout is nothing but mist. And besides
other reasonsto this conclusion I am impelledby considerations
touching the great inherent dignity and sublimity of the Sperm Whale;
I account him no commonshallow beinginasmuch as it is an
undisputed fact that he is never found on soundingsor 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
beingssuch as PlatoPyrrhothe DevilJupiterDanteand so on
there always goes up a certain semi-visible steamwhile in the act
of thinking deep thoughts. While composing a little treatise on
EternityI had the curiosity to place a mirror before me; and ere
long saw reflected therea curious involved worming and undulation
in the atmosphere over my head. The invariable moisture of my hair
while plunged in deep thoughtafter six cups of hot tea in my thin
shingled atticof an August noon; this seems an additional argument
for the above supposition.

And how nobly it raises our conceit of the mightymisty monsterto
behold him solemnly sailing through a calm tropical sea; his vast
mild head overhung by a canopy of vapourengendered by his
incommunicable contemplationsand that vapour--as you will sometimes
see it--glorified by a rainbowas if Heaven itself had put its seal
upon his thoughts. Ford'ye seerainbows do not visit the clear
air; they only irradiate vapour. And sothrough all the thick mists
of the dim doubts in my minddivine 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 denialsfew along with
themhave intuitions. Doubts of all things earthlyand intuitions
of some things heavenly; this combination makes neither believer nor
infidelbut makes a man who regards them both with equal eye.


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
celestialI 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 manit
comprises upon its upper surface alonean area of at least fifty
square feet. The compact round body of its root expands into two
broadfirmflat palms or flukesgradually shoaling away to less
than an inch in thickness. At the crotch or junctionthese flukes
slightly overlapthen 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 whalethe
tail will considerably exceed twenty feet across.

The entire member seems a dense webbed bed of welded sinews; but cut
into itand you find that three distinct strata compose it:--upper
middleand lower. The fibres in the upper and lower layersare
long and horizontal; those of the middle onevery shortand running
crosswise between the outside layers. This triune structureas much
as anything elseimparts power to the tail. To the student of old
Roman wallsthe middle layer will furnish a curious parallel to the
thin course of tiles always alternating with the stone in those
wonderful relics of the antiqueand 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
enoughthe whole bulk of the leviathan is knit over with a warp and
woof of muscular fibres and filamentswhich passing on either side
the loins and running down into the flukesinsensibly blend with
themand 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 matterthis were the thing to
do it.

Nor does this--its amazing strengthat all tend to cripple the
graceful flexion of its motions; where infantileness of ease
undulates through a Titanism of power. On the contrarythose
motions derive their most appalling beauty from it. Real strength
never impairs beauty or harmonybut it often bestows it; and in
everything imposingly beautifulstrength has much to do with the
magic. Take away the tied tendons that all over seem bursting from
the marble in the carved Herculesand its charm would be gone. As
devout Eckerman lifted the linen sheet from the naked corpse of
Goethehe was overwhelmed with the massive chest of the manthat
seemed as a Roman triumphal arch. When Angelo paints even God the
Father in human formmark what robustness is there. And whatever
they may reveal of the divine love in the Sonthe softcurled
hermaphroditical Italian picturesin which his idea has been most
successfully embodied; these picturesso destitute as they are of
all brawninesshint nothing of any powerbut the mere negative
feminine one of submission and endurancewhich on all hands it is
concededform the peculiar practical virtues of his teachings.

Such is the subtle elasticity of the organ I treat ofthat whether
wielded in sportor in earnestor in angerwhatever be the mood it
be inits flexions are invariably marked by exceeding grace.
Therein no fairy's arm can transcend it.

Five great motions are peculiar to it. Firstwhen used as a fin for
progression; Secondwhen used as a mace in battle; Thirdin
sweeping; Fourthin lobtailing; Fifthin peaking flukes.

First: Being horizontal in its positionthe Leviathan's tail acts in
a different manner from the tails of all other sea creatures. It
never wriggles. In man or fishwriggling is a sign of inferiority.
To the whalehis tail is the sole means of propulsion. Scroll-wise
coiled forwards beneath the bodyand then rapidly sprung backwards
it is this which gives that singular dartingleaping motion to the
monster when furiously swimming. His side-fins only serve to steer

Second: It is a little significantthat while one sperm whale only
fights another sperm whale with his head and jawneverthelessin
his conflicts with manhe chiefly and contemptuously uses his tail.
In striking at a boathe swiftly curves away his flukes from itand
the blow is only inflicted by the recoil. If it be made in the
unobstructed airespecially if it descend to its markthe 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 waterthen partly owing to the light buoyancy
of the whale boatand the elasticity of its materialsa cracked
rib or a dashed plank or twoa sort of stitch in the sideis
generally the most serious result. These submerged side blows are so
often received in the fisherythat they are accounted mere child's
play. Some one strips off a frockand the hole is stopped.

Third: I cannot demonstrate itbut it seems to methat 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
sweepingwhen 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 whiskerwoe to that sailor
whiskers and all. What tenderness there is in that preliminary
touch! Had this tail any prehensile powerI should straightway
bethink me of Darmonodes' elephant that so frequented the
flower-marketand with low salutations presented nosegays to
damselsand then caressed their zones. On more accounts than onea
pity it is that the whale does not possess this prehensile virtue in
his tail; for I have heard of yet another elephantthat when wounded
in the fightcurved round his trunk and extracted the dart.

Fourth: Stealing unawares upon the whale in the fancied security of
the middle of solitary seasyou find him unbent from the vast
corpulence of his dignityand kitten-likehe plays on the ocean as
if it were a hearth. But still you see his power in his play. The
broad palms of his tail are flirted high into the air; then smiting
the surfacethe 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 extremityyou
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 backthey are then
completely out of sight beneath the surface; but when he is about to
plunge into the deepshis entire flukes with at least thirty feet of
his body are tossed erect in the airand so remain vibrating a
momenttill 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 dreamshave I
seen majestic Satan thrusting forth his tormented colossal claw from
the flame Baltic of Hell. But in gazing at such scenesit is all in
all what mood you are in; if in the Danteanthe devils will occur to
you; if in that of Isaiahthe archangels. Standing at the mast-head
of my ship during a sunrise that crimsoned sky and seaI once saw a
large herd of whales in the eastall heading towards the sunand
for a moment vibrating in concert with peaked flukes. As it seemed
to me at the timesuch a grand embodiment of adoration of the gods
was never beheldeven in Persiathe home of the fire worshippers.
As Ptolemy Philopater testified of the African elephantI then
testified of the whalepronouncing him the most devout of all
beings. For according to King Jubathe military elephants of
antiquity often hailed the morning with their trunks uplifted in the
profoundest silence.

The chance comparison in this chapterbetween the whale and the
elephantso far as some aspects of the tail of the one and the trunk
of the other are concernedshould not tend to place those two
opposite organs on an equalitymuch less the creatures to which they
respectively belong. For as the mightiest elephant is but a terrier
to Leviathansocompared with Leviathan's tailhis trunk is but
the stalk of a lily. The most direful blow from the elephant's trunk
were as the playful tap of a fancompared with the measureless crush
and crash of the sperm whale's ponderous flukeswhich in repeated
instances have one after the other hurled entire boats with all their
oars and crews into the airvery much as an Indian juggler tosses
his balls.*

*Though all comparison in the way of general bulk between the whale
and the elephant is preposterousinasmuch as in that particular the
elephant stands in much the same respect to the whale that a dog does
to the elephant; neverthelessthere 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 trunkand then
elevating itjet it forth in a stream.

The more I consider this mighty tailthe more do I deplore my
inability to express it. At times there are gestures in itwhich
though they would well grace the hand of manremain wholly
inexplicable. In an extensive herdso remarkableoccasionallyare
these mystic gesturesthat I have heard hunters who have declared
them akin to Free-Mason signs and symbols; that the whaleindeedby
these methods intelligently conversed with the world. Nor are there
wanting other motions of the whale in his general bodyfull of
strangenessand unaccountable to his most experienced assailant.
Dissect him how I maythenI but go skin deep; I know him not
and never will. But if I know not even the tail of this whalehow
understand his head? much morehow comprehend his facewhen face he
has none? Thou shalt see my back partsmy tailhe 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 faceI say again he has
no face.


The Grand Armada.

The long and narrow peninsula of Malaccaextending south-eastward

from the territories of Birmahforms the most southerly point of all
Asia. In a continuous line from that peninsula stretch the long
islands of SumatraJavaBallyand Timor; whichwith many others
form a vast moleor rampartlengthwise connecting Asia with
Australiaand 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 Sundachieflyvessels 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 islandsbuttressed by that bold green
promontoryknown 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 spicesand
silksand jewelsand goldand ivorywith which the thousand
islands of that oriental sea are enrichedit seems a significant
provision of naturethat such treasuresby the very formation of
the landshould at least bear the appearancehowever 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 Mediterraneanthe Balticand the
Propontis. Unlike the Danesthese Orientals do not demand the
obsequious homage of lowered top-sails from the endless procession of
ships before the windwhich for centuries pastby night and by day
have passed between the islands of Sumatra and Javafreighted with
the costliest cargoes of the east. But while they freely waive a
ceremonial like thisthey do by no means renounce their claim to
more solid tribute.

Time out of mind the piratical proas of the Malayslurking among the
low shaded coves and islets of Sumatrahave sallied out upon the
vessels sailing through the straitsfiercely 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;
yeteven at the present daywe occasionally hear of English and
American vesselswhichin those watershave been remorselessly
boarded and pillaged.

With a fairfresh windthe Pequod was now drawing nigh to these
straits; Ahab purposing to pass through them into the Javan seaand
thencecruising northwardsover waters known to be frequented here
and there by the Sperm Whalesweep inshore by the Philippine
Islandsand gain the far coast of Japanin time for the great
whaling season there. By these meansthe circumnavigating Pequod
would sweep almost all the known Sperm Whale cruising grounds of the
worldprevious to descending upon the Line in the Pacific; where
Ahabthough everywhere else foiled in his pursuitfirmly counted
upon giving battle to Moby Dickin 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 questdoes Ahab touch no land? does his
crew drink air? Surelyhe will stop for water. Nay. For a long
timenowthe circus-running sun has raced within his fiery ring
and needs no sustenance but what's in himself. So Ahab. Mark this
tooin the whaler. While other hulls are loaded down with alien
stuffto be transferred to foreign wharves; the world-wandering
whale-ship carries no cargo but herself and crewtheir 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; whichwhen three years afloatthe
Nantucketerin the Pacificprefers to drink before the brackish
fluidbut yesterday rafted off in casksfrom the Peruvian or Indian
streams. Hence it isthatwhile other ships may have gone to China
from New Yorkand back againtouching at a score of portsthe
whale-shipin all that intervalmay 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--"Wellboyshere's the ark!"

Nowas many Sperm Whales had been captured off the western coast of
Javain the near vicinity of the Straits of Sunda; indeedas most
of the groundroundaboutwas generally recognised by the fishermen
as an excellent spot for cruising; thereforeas the Pequod gained
more and more upon Java Headthe 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 bowand with delighted
nostrils the fresh cinnamon was snuffed in the airyet not a single
jet was descried. Almost renouncing all thought of falling in with
any game hereaboutsthe ship had well nigh entered the straitswhen
the customary cheering cry was heard from aloftand ere long a
spectacle of singular magnificence saluted us.

But here be it premisedthat owing to the unwearied activity with
which of late they have been hunted over all four oceansthe Sperm
Whalesinstead of almost invariably sailing in small detached
companiesas in former timesare now frequently met with in
extensive herdssometimes embracing so great a multitudethat 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 caravansmay be
imputed the circumstance that even in the best cruising groundsyou
may now sometimes sail for weeks and months togetherwithout being
greeted by a single spout; and then be suddenly saluted by what
sometimes seems thousands on thousands.

Broad on both bowsat the distance of some two or three milesand
forming a great semicircleembracing one half of the level horizon
a continuous chain of whale-jets were up-playing and sparkling in the
noon-day air. Unlike the straight perpendicular twin-jets of the
Right Whalewhichdividing at topfall over in two brancheslike
the cleft drooping boughs of a willowthe 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 deckthenas she would rise on a high hill
of the seathis host of vapoury spoutsindividually curling up into
the airand beheld through a blending atmosphere of bluish haze
showed like the thousand cheerful chimneys of some dense metropolis
descried of a balmy autumnal morningby some horseman on a height.

As marching armies approaching an unfriendly defile in the mountains
accelerate their marchall eagerness to place that perilous passage
in their rearand 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
semicircleand swimming onin one solidbut still crescentic

Crowding all sail the Pequod pressed after them; the harpooneers
handling their weaponsand loudly cheering from the heads of their
yet suspended boats. If the wind only heldlittle doubt had they
that chased through these Straits of Sundathe vast host would only
deploy into the Oriental seas to witness the capture of not a few of

their number. And who could tell whetherin that congregated
caravanMoby Dick himself might not temporarily be swimminglike
the worshipped white-elephant in the coronation procession of the
Siamese! So with stun-sail piled on stun-sailwe sailed along
driving these leviathans before us; whenof a suddenthe voice of
Tashtego was heardloudly directing attention to something in our

Corresponding to the crescent in our vanwe beheld another in our
rear. It seemed formed of detached white vapoursrising and falling
something like the spouts of the whales; only they did not so
completely come and go; for they constantly hoveredwithout finally
disappearing. Levelling his glass at this sightAhab quickly
revolved in his pivot-holecryingAloft there, and rig whips and
buckets to wet the sails;--Malays, sir, and after us!

As if too long lurking behind the headlandstill the Pequod should
fairly have entered the straitsthese rascally Asiatics were now in
hot pursuitto make up for their over-cautious delay. But when the
swift Pequodwith a fresh leading windwas herself in hot chase;
how very kind of these tawny philanthropists to assist in speeding
her on to her own chosen pursuit--mere riding-whips and rowels to
herthat they were. As with glass under armAhab to-and-fro paced
the deck; in his forward turn beholding the monsters he chasedand
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 sailingand
bethought him that through that gate lay the route to his vengeance
and beheldhow that through that same gate he was now both chasing
and being chased to his deadly end; and not only thatbut 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 brainAhab's brow was left gaunt and
ribbedlike the black sand beach after some stormy tide has been
gnawing itwithout being able to drag the firm thing from its place.

But thoughts like these troubled very few of the reckless crew; and
whenafter steadily dropping and dropping the pirates asternthe
Pequod at last shot by the vivid green Cockatoo Point on the Sumatra
sideemerging at last upon the broad waters beyond; thenthe
harpooneers seemed more to grieve that the swift whales had been
gaining upon the shipthan to rejoice that the ship had so
victoriously gained upon the Malays. But still driving on in the
wake of the whalesat length they seemed abating their speed;
gradually the ship neared them; and the wind now dying awayword was
passed to spring to the boats. But no sooner did the herdby some
presumed wonderful instinct of the Sperm Whalebecome notified of
the three keels that were after them--though as yet a mile in their
rear--than they rallied againand forming in close ranks and
battalionsso that their spouts all looked like flashing lines of
stacked bayonetsmoved on with redoubled velocity.

Stripped to our shirts and drawerswe sprang to the white-ashand
after several hours' pulling were almost disposed to renounce the
chasewhen 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 irresolutionwhichwhen the
fishermen perceive it in the whalethey say he is gallied. The
compact martial columns in which they had been hitherto rapidly and
steadily swimmingwere now broken up in one measureless rout; and
like King Porus' elephants in the Indian battle with Alexanderthey
seemed going mad with consternation. In all directions expanding in
vast irregular circlesand aimlessly swimming hither and thitherby
their short thick spoutingsthey plainly betrayed their distraction

of panic. This was still more strangely evinced by those of their
numberwhocompletely paralysed as it werehelplessly floated like
water-logged dismantled ships on the sea. Had these Leviathans been
but a flock of simple sheeppursued over the pasture by three fierce
wolvesthey 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 thousandsthe
lion-maned buffaloes of the West have fled before a solitary
horseman. Witnesstooall human beingshow when herded together
in the sheepfold of a theatre's pitthey willat the slightest
alarm of firerush helter-skelter for the outletscrowding
tramplingjammingand remorselessly dashing each other to death.
Bestthereforewithhold any amazement at the strangely gallied
whales before usfor there is no folly of the beasts of the earth
which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.

Though many of the whalesas has been saidwere in violent motion
yet it is to be observed that as a whole the herd neither advanced
nor retreatedbut collectively remained in one place. As is
customary in those casesthe boats at once separatedeach making
for some one lone whale on the outskirts of the shoal. In about
three minutes' timeQueequeg's harpoon was flung; the stricken fish
darted blinding spray in our facesand then running away with us like
lightsteered straight for the heart of the herd. Though such a
movement on the part of the whale struck under such circumstancesis
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 shoalyou bid adieu to
circumspect life and only exist in a delirious throb.

Asblind and deafthe whale plunged forwardas 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 seaon all sides menaced as we
flewby the crazed creatures to and fro rushing about us; our beset
boat was like a ship mobbed by ice-isles in a tempestand striving
to steer through their complicated channels and straitsknowing not at
what moment it may be locked in and crushed.

But not a bit dauntedQueequeg steered us manfully; now sheering off
from this monster directly across our route in advance; now edging
away from thatwhose colossal flukes were suspended overheadwhile
all the timeStarbuck stood up in the bowslance in handpricking
out of our way whatever whales he could reach by short dartsfor
there was no time to make long ones. Nor were the oarsmen quite
idlethough their wonted duty was now altogether dispensed with.
They chiefly attended to the shouting part of the business. "Out of
the wayCommodore!" cried oneto a great dromedary that of a sudden
rose bodily to the surfaceand for an instant threatened to swamp
us. "Hard down with your tailthere!" cried a second to another
whichclose to our gunwaleseemed calmly cooling himself with his
own fan-like extremity.

All whaleboats carry certain curious contrivancesoriginally
invented by the Nantucket Indianscalled druggs. Two thick squares
of wood of equal size are stoutly clenched togetherso that they
cross each other's grain at right angles; a line of considerable
length is then attached to the middle of this blockand the other
end of the line being loopedit can in a moment be fastened to a
harpoon. It is chiefly among gallied whales that this drugg is used.
For thenmore whales are close round you than you can possibly
chase at one time. But sperm whales are not every day encountered;
while you maythenyou must kill all you can. And if you cannot
kill them all at onceyou must wing themso that they can be

afterwards killed at your leisure. Hence it isthat at times like
these the druggcomes into requisition. Our boat was furnished with
three of them. The first and second were successfully dartedand we
saw the whales staggeringly running offfettered by the enormous
sidelong resistance of the towing drugg. They were cramped like
malefactors with the chain and ball. But upon flinging the thirdin
the act of tossing overboard the clumsy wooden blockit caught under
one of the seats of the boatand in an instant tore it out and
carried it awaydropping the oarsman in the boat's bottom as the
seat slid from under him. On both sides the sea came in at the
wounded planksbut 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-harpoonswere
it not that as we advanced into the herdour whale's way greatly
diminished; moreoverthat as we went still further and further from
the circumference of commotionthe direful disorders seemed waning.
So that when at last the jerking harpoon drew outand the towing
whale sideways vanished; thenwith the tapering force of his parting
momentumwe glided between two whales into the innermost heart of
the shoalas if from some mountain torrent we had slid into a serene
valley lake. Here the storms in the roaring glens between the
outermost whaleswere heard but not felt. In this central expanse
the sea presented that smooth satin-like surfacecalled a sleek
produced by the subtle moisture thrown off by the whale in his more
quiet moods. Yeswe 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 circlesand
saw successive pods of whaleseight or ten in eachswiftly going
round and roundlike multiplied spans of horses in a ring; and so
closely shoulder to shoulderthat a Titanic circus-rider might
easily have over-arched the middle onesand 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 herdno
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 lakewe were occasionally visited by small tame cows and calves;
the women and children of this routed host.

Nowinclusive of the occasional wide intervals between the revolving
outer circlesand inclusive of the spaces between the various pods
in any one of those circlesthe entire area at this juncture
embraced by the whole multitudemust 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 circumstancebecauseas 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; orpossiblybeing so young
unsophisticatedand every way innocent and inexperienced; however it
may have beenthese smaller whales--now and then visiting our
becalmed boat from the margin of the lake--evinced a wondrous
fearlessness and confidenceor else a still becharmed panic which it
was impossible not to marvel at. Like household dogs they came
snuffling round usright up to our gunwalesand touching them; till
it almost seemed that some spell had suddenly domesticated them.
Queequeg patted their foreheads; Starbuck scratched their backs with
his lance; but fearful of the consequencesfor the time refrained
from darting it.

But far beneath this wondrous world upon the surfaceanother and
still stranger world met our eyes as we gazed over the side. For

suspended in those watery vaultsfloated the forms of the nursing
mothers of the whalesand those that by their enormous girth seemed
shortly to become mothers. The lakeas I have hintedwas to a
considerable depth exceedingly transparent; and as human infants
while suckling will calmly and fixedly gaze away from the breastas
if leading two different lives at the time; and while yet drawing
mortal nourishmentbe still spiritually feasting upon some unearthly
reminiscence;--even so did the young of these whales seem looking up
towards usbut not at usas if we were but a bit of Gulfweed in
their new-born sight. Floating on their sidesthe mothers also
seemed quietly eyeing us. One of these little infantsthat from
certain queer tokens seemed hardly a day oldmight have measured
some fourteen feet in lengthand 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; wheretail to headand all ready for the final spring
the unborn whale lies bent like a Tartar's bow. The delicate
side-finsand the palms of his flukesstill freshly retained the
plaited crumpled appearance of a baby's ears newly arrived from
foreign parts.

Line! line!cried Queequeglooking over the gunwale; "him fast!
him fast!--Who line him! Who struck?--Two whale; one bigone

What ails ye, man?cried Starbuck.

Look-e here,said Queequegpointing down.

As when the stricken whalethat from the tub has reeled out hundreds
of fathoms of rope; asafter deep soundinghe floats up againand
shows the slackened curling line buoyantly rising and spiralling
towards the air; so nowStarbuck saw long coils of the umbilical
cord of Madame Leviathanby which the young cub seemed still
tethered to its dam. Not seldom in the rapid vicissitudes of the
chasethis natural linewith the maternal end loosebecomes
entangled with the hempen oneso 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 whaleas with all other species of the Leviathanbut
unlike most other fishbreeds indifferently at all seasons; after a
gestation which may probably be set down at nine monthsproducing
but one at a time; though in some few known instances giving birth to
an Esau and Jacob:--a contingency provided for in suckling by two
teatscuriously situatedone 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 lancethe
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
esteemthe whales salute MORE HOMINUM.

And thusthough surrounded by circle upon circle of consternations
and affrightsdid these inscrutable creatures at the centre freely
and fearlessly indulge in all peaceful concernments; yeaserenely
revelled in dalliance and delight. But even soamid the tornadoed
Atlantic of my beingdo I myself still for ever centrally disport in
mute calm; and while ponderous planets of unwaning woe revolve round
medeep down and deep inland there I still bathe me in eternal
mildness of joy.

Meanwhileas we thus lay entrancedthe 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 circlewhere abundance
of room 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 circleswas nothing to what at last met our eyes.
It is sometimes the custom when fast to a whale more than commonly
powerful and alertto seek to hamstring himas it wereby
sundering or maiming his gigantic tail-tendon. It is done by darting
a short-handled cutting-spadeto which is attached a rope for
hauling it back again. A whale wounded (as we afterwards learned) in
this partbut not effectuallyas it seemedhad broken away from
the boatcarrying along with him half of the harpoon line; and in
the extraordinary agony of the woundhe was now dashing among the
revolving circles like the lone mounted desperado Arnoldat the
battle of Saratogacarrying dismay wherever he went.

But agonizing as was the wound of this whaleand an appalling
spectacle enoughany way; yet the peculiar horror with which he
seemed to inspire the rest of the herdwas 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 weaponhad permanently caught in
the coils of the harpoon-line round his tailthe cutting-spade
itself had worked loose from his flesh. So that tormented to
madnesshe was now churning through the waterviolently flailing
with his flexible tailand 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. Firstthe whales forming the margin of our lake
began to crowd a littleand tumble against each otheras 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. Yesthe 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 Springthe entire host of whales came tumbling
upon their inner centreas if to pile themselves up in one common
mountain. Instantly Starbuck and Queequeg changed places; Starbuck
taking the stern.

Oars! Oars!he intensely whisperedseizing the helm--"gripe your
oarsand clutch your soulsnow! My Godmenstand by! Shove him
offyou Queequeg--the whale there!--prick him!--hit him! Stand
up--stand upand stay so! Springmen--pullmen; never mind their
backs--scrape them!--scrape away!"

The boat was now all but jammed between two vast black bulksleaving
a narrow Dardanelles between their long lengths. But by desperate
endeavor we at last shot into a temporary opening; then giving way
rapidlyand at the same time earnestly watching for another outlet.
After many similar hair-breadth escapeswe at last swiftly glided
into what had just been one of the outer circlesbut now crossed by
random whalesall violently making for one centre. This lucky
salvation was cheaply purchased by the loss of Queequeg's hatwho
while standing in the bows to prick the fugitive whaleshad 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 wasit soon
resolved itself into what seemed a systematic movement; for having
clumped together at last in one dense bodythey 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 asternand likewise to secure one which
Flask had killed and waifed. The waif is a pennoned poletwo or
three of which are carried by every boat; and whichwhen additional
game is at handare inserted upright into the floating body of a
dead whaleboth to mark its place on the seaand also as token of
prior possessionshould 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 timebut only to be takenas will hereafter be seen
by some other craft than the Pequod.


Schools and Schoolmasters.

The previous chapter gave account of an immense body or herd of Sperm
Whalesand there was also then given the probable cause inducing
those vast aggregations.

Nowthough such great bodies are at times encounteredyetas must
have been seeneven at the present daysmall detached bands are
occasionally observedembracing from twenty to fifty individuals
each. Such bands are known as schools. They generally are of two
sorts; those composed almost entirely of femalesand those mustering
none but young vigorous malesor bullsas they are familiarly

In cavalier attendance upon the school of femalesyou invariably see
a male of full grown magnitudebut not old; whoupon any alarm
evinces his gallantry by falling in the rear and covering the flight
of his ladies. In truththis gentleman is a luxurious Ottoman
swimming about over the watery worldsurroundingly accompanied by
all the solaces and endearments of the harem. The contrast between
this Ottoman and his concubines is striking; becausewhile he is
always of the largest leviathanic proportionsthe ladieseven at
full growthare not more than one-third of the bulk of an
average-sized male. They are comparatively delicateindeed; I dare
saynot to exceed half a dozen yards round the waist. Nevertheless
it cannot be deniedthat 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 fashionablesthey 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 seasonhaving just
returnedperhapsfrom spending the summer in the Northern seasand
so cheating summer of all unpleasant weariness and warmth. By the
time they have lounged up and down the promenade of the Equator
awhilethey start for the Oriental waters in anticipation of the
cool season thereand so evade the other excessive temperature of
the year.

When serenely advancing on one of these journeysif any strange
suspicious sights are seenmy lord whale keeps a wary eye on his

interesting family. Should any unwarrantably pert young Leviathan
coming that waypresume to draw confidentially close to one of the
ladieswith what prodigious fury the Bashaw assails himand chases
him away! High timesindeedif unprincipled young rakes like him
are to be permitted to invade the sanctity of domestic bliss; though
do what the Bashaw willhe cannot keep the most notorious Lothario
out of his bed; foralas! all fish bed in common. As ashorethe
ladies often cause the most terrible duels among their rival
admirers; just so with the whaleswho sometimes come to deadly
battleand all for love. They fence with their long lower jaws
sometimes locking them togetherand 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 teethscolloped fins; and in some instanceswrenched and
dislocated mouths.

But supposing the invader of domestic bliss to betake himself away at
the first rush of the harem's lordthen is it very diverting to
watch that lord. Gently he insinuates his vast bulk among them again
and revels there awhilestill in tantalizing vicinity to young
Lothariolike pious Solomon devoutly worshipping among his thousand
concubines. Granting other whales to be in sightthe fishermen
will seldom give chase to one of these Grand Turks; for these Grand
Turks are too lavish of their strengthand hence their unctuousness
is small. As for the sons and the daughters they begetwhythose sons
and daughters must take care of themselves; at leastwith only the
maternal help. For like certain other omnivorous roving lovers that
might be namedmy Lord Whale has no taste for the nurseryhowever
much for the bower; and sobeing a great travellerhe leaves his
anonymous babies all over the world; every baby an exotic. In good
timeneverthelessas the ardour of youth declines; as years and
dumps increase; as reflection lends her solemn pauses; in shortas a
general lassitude overtakes the sated Turk; then a love of ease and
virtue supplants the love for maidens; our Ottoman enters upon the
impotentrepentantadmonitory stage of lifeforswearsdisbands
the haremand grown to an exemplarysulky old soulgoes about all
alone among the meridians and parallels saying his prayersand
warning each young Leviathan from his amorous errors.

Nowas the harem of whales is called by the fishermen a schoolso
is the lord and master of that school technically known as the
schoolmaster. It is therefore not in strict characterhowever
admirably satiricalthat after going to school himselfhe should
then go abroad inculcating not what he learned therebut the folly
of it. His titleschoolmasterwould very naturally seem derived
from the name bestowed upon the harem itselfbut some have surmised
that the man who first thus entitled this sort of Ottoman whalemust
have read the memoirs of Vidocqand 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 yearsis true of all aged Sperm
Whales. Almost universallya lone whale--as a solitary Leviathan is
called--proves an ancient one. Like venerable moss-bearded Daniel
Boonehe will have no one near him but Nature herself; and her he
takes to wife in the wilderness of watersand the best of wives she
isthough she keeps so many moody secrets.

The schools composing none but young and vigorous malespreviously
mentionedoffer a strong contrast to the harem schools. For while
those female whales are characteristically timidthe young malesor
forty-barrel-bullsas they call themare by far the most pugnacious

of all Leviathansand proverbially the most dangerous to encounter;
excepting those wondrous grey-headedgrizzled whalessometimes met
and these will fight you like grim fiends exasperated by a penal

The Forty-barrel-bull schools are larger than the harem schools.
Like a mob of young collegiansthey are full of fightfunand
wickednesstumbling round the world at such a recklessrollicking
ratethat no prudent underwriter would insure them any more than he
would a riotous lad at Yale or Harvard. They soon relinquish this
turbulence thoughand when about three-fourths grownbreak upand
separately go about in quest of settlementsthat isharems.

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 schooland her companions swim around her with
every token of concernsometimes lingering so near her and so long
as themselves to fall a prey.


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
fisheryof which the waif may be deemed the grand symbol and badge.

It frequently happens that when several ships are cruising in
companya whale may be struck by one vesselthen escapeand be
finally killed and captured by another vessel; and herein are
indirectly comprised many minor contingenciesall partaking of this
one grand feature. For example--after a weary and perilous chase
and capture of a whalethe body may get loose from the ship by
reason of a violent storm; and drifting far away to leewardbe
retaken by a second whalerwhoin a calmsnugly tows it alongside
without risk of life or line. Thus the most vexatious and violent
disputes would often arise between the fishermenwere there not some
written or unwrittenuniversalundisputed law applicable to all

Perhaps the only formal whaling code authorized by legislative
enactmentwas that of Holland. It was decreed by the States-General
in A.D. 1695. But though no other nation has ever had any written
whaling lawyet 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 forthingor the barb of a harpoonand worn round the
neckso 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 itwhich necessitates a vast volume of commentaries to
expound it.

First: What is a Fast-Fish? Alive or dead a fish is technically

fastwhen it is connected with an occupied ship or boatby any
medium at all controllable by the occupant or occupants--a mastan
oara nine-inch cablea telegraph wireor a strand of cobwebit
is all the same. Likewise a fish is technically fast when it bears a
waifor any other recognised symbol of possession; so long as the
party waifing it plainly evince their ability at any time to take it
alongsideas well as their intention so to do.

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. Trueamong the more
upright and honourable whalemen allowances are always made for
peculiar caseswhere 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 Englandwherein 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 livesobliged to forsake not only their
linesbut their boat itself. Ultimately the defendants (the crew of
another ship) came up with the whalestruckkilledseizedand
finally appropriated it before the very eyes of the plaintiffs. And
when those defendants were remonstrated withtheir captain snapped
his fingers in the plaintiffs' teethand assured them that by way of
doxology to the deed he had donehe would now retain their line
harpoonsand boatwhich had remained attached to the whale at the
time of the seizure. Wherefore the plaintiffs now sued for the
recovery of the value of their whalelineharpoonsand boat.

Mr. Erskine was counsel for the defendants; Lord Ellenborough was the
judge. In the course of the defencethe witty Erskine went on to
illustrate his positionby alluding to a recent crim. con. case
wherein a gentlemanafter in vain trying to bridle his wife's
viciousnesshad at last abandoned her upon the seas of life; but in
the course of yearsrepenting of that stephe instituted an action
to recover possession of her. Erskine was on the other side; and he
then supported it by sayingthat though the gentleman had originally
harpooned the ladyand had once had her fastand only by reason of
the great stress of her plunging viciousnesshad at last abandoned
her; yet abandon her he didso that she became a loose-fish; and
therefore when a subsequent gentleman re-harpooned herthe lady then
became that subsequent gentleman's propertyalong 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 pleadingsand the counter pleadingsbeing duly heardthe
very learned Judge in set terms decidedto wit--That as for the
boathe awarded it to the plaintiffsbecause they had merely
abandoned it to save their lives; but that with regard to the
controverted whaleharpoonsand linethey belonged to the
defendants; the whalebecause it was a Loose-Fish at the time of the
final capture; and the harpoons and line because when the fish made
off with themit (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; ergothe 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 matterthe two great principles laid down in the twin whaling

laws previously quotedand applied and elucidated by Lord
Ellenborough in the above cited case; these two laws touching
Fast-Fish and Loose-FishI saywillon reflectionbe found the
fundamentals of all human jurisprudence; for notwithstanding its
complicated tracery of sculpturethe Temple of the Lawlike the
Temple of the Philistineshas but two props to stand on.

Is it not a saying in every one's mouthPossession is half of the
law: that isregardless of how the thing came into possession? But
often possession is the whole of the law. What are the sinews and
souls of Russian serfs and Republican slaves but Fast-Fishwhereof
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 Mordecaithe
brokergets from poor Woebegonethe bankrupton 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 L100000 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 L100000 but a
Fast-Fish? What are the Duke of Dunder's hereditary towns and
hamlets but Fast-Fish? What to that redoubted harpooneerJohn Bull
is poor Irelandbut a Fast-Fish? What to that apostolic lancer
Brother Jonathanis Texas but a Fast-Fish? And concerning all
theseis not Possession the whole of the law?

But if the doctrine of Fast-Fish be pretty generally applicablethe
kindred doctrine of Loose-Fish is still more widely so. That is
internationally and universally applicable.

What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fishin 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 youreaderbut a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fishtoo?


Heads or Tails.

De balena vero sufficit, si rex habeat caput, et regina caudam.

Latin from the books of the Laws of Englandwhich taken along with
the contextmeansthat of all whales captured by anybody on the
coast of that landthe Kingas Honourary Grand Harpooneermust have
the headand the Queen be respectfully presented with the tail. A
division whichin the whaleis much like halving an apple; there is
no intermediate remainder. Now as this lawunder 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-Fishit is here treated of in a separate chapteron the same

courteous principle that prompts the English railways to be at the
expense of a separate carspecially reserved for the accommodation
of royalty. In the first placein curious proof of the fact that
the above-mentioned law is still in forceI proceed to lay before
you a circumstance that happened within the last two years.

It seems that some honest mariners of Doveror Sandwichor some one
of the Cinque Portshad 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 beadlecalled a Lord
Warden. Holding the office directly from the crownI believeall
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 marinersbare-footedand with their
trowsers rolled high up on their eely legshad wearily hauled their
fat fish high and drypromising themselves a good L150 from the
precious oil and bone; and in fantasy sipping rare tea with their
wivesand good ale with their croniesupon the strength of their
respective shares; up steps a very learned and most Christian and
charitable gentlemanwith a copy of Blackstone under his arm; and
laying it upon the whale's headhe says--"Hands off! this fishmy
mastersis a Fast-Fish. I seize it as the Lord Warden's." Upon
this the poor mariners in their respectful consternation--so truly
English--knowing not what to sayfall to vigorously scratching their
heads all round; meanwhile ruefully glancing from the whale to the
stranger. But that did in nowise mend the matteror at all soften
the hard heart of the learned gentleman with the copy of Blackstone.
At length one of themafter 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.

In a wordthe whale was seized and soldand his Grace the Duke of

Wellington received the money. Thinking that viewed in some
particular lightsthe case might by a bare possibility in some small
degree be deemedunder the circumstancesa rather hard onean
honest clergyman of the town respectfully addressed a note to his
Gracebegging 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 soand
received the moneyand 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 kingdomson 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 Plowdonthe whale so
caught belongs to the King and Queenbecause of its superior
excellence.And by the soundest commentators this has ever been
held a cogent argument in such matters.

But why should the King have the headand the Queen the tail? A
reason for thatye 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'sthat 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 headwhich is a sad
mistake for a sagacious lawyer like Prynne. But is the Queen a
mermaidto 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
limitationsand 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 whalethe King receiving the highly
dense and elastic head peculiar to that fishwhichsymbolically
regardedmay possibly be humorously grounded upon some presumed
congeniality. And thus there seems a reason in all thingseven in


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.

It was a week or two after the last whaling scene recountedand when
we were slowly sailing over a sleepyvapourymid-day seathat 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 Stubbthat somewhere hereabouts
are some of those drugged whales we tickled the other day. I thought
they would keel up before long.

Presentlythe vapours in advance slid aside; and there in the
distance lay a shipwhose furled sails betokened that some sort of
whale must be alongside. As we glided nearerthe stranger showed
French colours from his peak; and by the eddying cloud of vulture
sea-fowl that circledand hoveredand swooped around himit was
plain that the whale alongside must be what the fishermen call a
blasted whalethat isa 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 plaguewhen the living are incompetent to bury the
departed. So intolerable indeed is it regarded by somethat 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 qualityand by no
means of the nature of attar-of-rose.

Coming still nearer with the expiring breezewe saw that the
Frenchman had a second whale alongside; and this second whale seemed
even more of a nosegay than the first. In truthit turned out to be
one of those problematical whales that seem to dry up and die with a
sort of prodigious dyspepsiaor 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 thishowever much he may shun
blasted whales in general.

The Pequod had now swept so nigh to the strangerthat Stubb vowed he
recognised his cutting spade-pole entangled in the lines that were
knotted round the tail of one of these whales.

There's a pretty fellow, now,he banteringly laughedstanding in
the ship's bowsthere'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 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 nothe Pequod was now fairly entrapped in the smellwith
no hope of escaping except by its breezing up again. Issuing from
the cabinStubb now called his boat's crewand pulled off for the
stranger. Drawing across her bowhe perceived that in accordance
with the fanciful French tastethe upper part of her stem-piece was
carved in the likeness of a huge drooping stalkwas 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 boardsin large gilt lettershe 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-budeh?" he cried with his hand to his nosethat
will do very well; but how like all creation it smells!

Now in order to hold direct communication with the people on deckhe
had to pull round the bows to the starboard sideand thus come close
to the blasted whale; and so talk over it.

Arrived then at this spotwith one hand still to his nosehe
bawled--"Bouton-de-Roseahoy! are there any of you Bouton-de-Roses
that speak English?"

Yes,rejoined a Guernsey-man from the bulwarkswho 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 Pequodand seeing Ahab leaning
over the quarter-deck rail awaiting his reporthe moulded his two
hands into a trumpet and shouted--"NoSir! No!" Upon which Ahab
retiredand Stubb returned to the Frenchman.

He now perceived that the Guernsey-manwho had just got into the
chainsand was using a cutting-spadehad 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-manwho 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 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
Stubband with that he soon mounted to the deck. There a queer
scene presented itself. The sailorsin tasselled caps of red
worstedwere getting the heavy tackles in readiness for the whales.
But they worked rather slow and talked very fastand 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 workand run up to the mast-head to get some fresh air.
Some thinking they would catch the plaguedipped 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 bowlwere vigorously
puffing tobacco-smokeso that it constantly filled their

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 doorwhich was held ajar
from within. This was the tormented surgeonwhoafter in vain
remonstrating against the proceedings of the dayhad betaken himself
to the Captain's round-house (CABINET he called it) to avoid the
pest; but stillcould not help yelling out his entreaties and
indignations at times.

Marking all thisStubb argued well for his schemeand turning to
the Guernsey-man had a little chat with himduring which the
stranger mate expressed his detestation of his Captain as a conceited
ignoramuswho had brought them all into so unsavory and unprofitable
a pickle. Sounding him carefullyStubb further perceived that the
Guernsey-man had not the slightest suspicion concerning the
ambergris. He therefore held his peace on that headbut otherwise
was quite frank and confidential with himso that the two quickly
concocted a little plan for both circumventing and satirizing the
Captainwithout his at all dreaming of distrusting their sincerity.
According to this little plan of theirsthe Guernsey-manunder
cover of an interpreter's officewas to tell the Captain what he
pleasedbut as coming from Stubb; and as for Stubbhe 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 darkbut rather delicate looking man for a sea-captain
with large whiskers and moustachehowever; and wore a red cotton
velvet vest with watch-seals at his side. To this gentlemanStubb
was now politely introduced by the Guernsey-manwho at once
ostentatiously put on the aspect of interpreting between them.

What shall I say to him first?said he.

Why,said Stubbeyeing 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-manin Frenchturning to his
captainthat 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 startedand 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


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.

Instantly the captain ran forwardand in a loud voice commanded his
crew to desist from hoisting the cutting-tacklesand at once cast
loose the cables and chains confining the whales to the ship.

What now?said the Guernsey-manwhen the Captain had returned to

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 thisthe 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

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, and pull the ship away from
these whales, for it's so calm they won't drift.

By this time Stubb was over the sideand getting into his boat
hailed the Guernsey-man to this effect--that having a long tow-line
in his boathe would do what he could to help themby pulling out
the lighter whale of the two from the ship's side. While the
Frenchman's boatsthenwere 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 boatsthe Frenchman soon increased his distance
while the Pequod slid in between him and Stubb's whale. Whereupon
Stubb quickly pulled to the floating bodyand hailing the Pequod to
give notice of his intentionsat once proceeded to reap the fruit of
his unrighteous cunning. Seizing his sharp boat-spadehe commenced
an excavation in the bodya 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 ribsit was like
turning up old Roman tiles and pottery buried in fat English loam.
His boat's crew were all in high excitementeagerly helping their
chiefand looking as anxious as gold-hunters.

And all the time numberless fowls were divingand duckingand
screamingand yellingand fighting around them. Stubb was
beginning to look disappointedespecially as the horrible nosegay
increasedwhen suddenly from out the very heart of this plague
there stole a faint stream of perfumewhich flowed through the tide
of bad smells without being absorbed by itas one river will flow
into and then along with anotherwithout at all blending with it for
a time.

I have it, I have it,cried Stubbwith delightstriking something
in the subterranean regionsa purse! a purse!

Dropping his spadehe thrust both hands inand drew out handfuls of
something that looked like ripe Windsor soapor 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
thisgood friendsis ambergrisworth a gold guinea an ounce to any
druggist. Some six handfuls were obtained; but more was unavoidably
lost in the seaand still moreperhapsmight have been secured
were it not for impatient Ahab's loud command to Stubb to desistand
come on boardelse the ship would bid them good bye.



Now this ambergris is a very curious substanceand so important as
an article of commercethat 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 timeand indeed until a comparatively
late daythe precise origin of ambergris remainedlike amber
itselfa problem to the learned. Though the word ambergris is but
the French compound for grey amberyet the two substances are quite
distinct. For amberthough at times found on the sea-coastis also
dug up in some far inland soilswhereas ambergris is never found
except upon the sea. Besidesamber is a hardtransparentbrittle
odorless substanceused for mouth-pieces to pipesfor beads and
ornaments; but ambergris is softwaxyand so highly fragrant and
spicythat it is largely used in perfumeryin pastilesprecious
candleshair-powdersand pomatum. The Turks use it in cookingand
also carry it to Meccafor the same purpose that frankincense is
carried to St. Peter's in Rome. Some wine merchants drop a few
grains into claretto flavor it.

Who would thinkthenthat 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 someambergris is supposed to be the
causeand by others the effectof the dyspepsia in the whale. How
to cure such a dyspepsia it were hard to sayunless by administering
three or four boat loads of Brandreth's pillsand then running out
of harm's wayas laborers do in blasting rocks.

I have forgotten to say that there were found in this ambergris
certain hardroundbony plateswhich 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

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 Corinthiansabout corruption and
incorruption; how that we are sown in dishonourbut 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-savorCologne-waterin its rudimental
manufacturing stagesis the worst.

I should like to conclude the chapter with the above appealbut
cannotowing to my anxiety to repel a charge often made against

whalemenand whichin 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 disprovedthat the vocation of whaling
is throughout a slatternlyuntidy business. But there is another
thing to rebut. They hint that all whales always smell bad. Now how
did this odious stigma originate?

I opinethat it is plainly traceable to the first arrival of the
Greenland whaling ships in Londonmore than two centuries ago.
Because those whalemen did not thenand do not nowtry out their
oil at sea as the Southern ships have always done; but cutting up the
fresh blubber in small bitsthrust it through the bung holes of
large casksand carry it home in that manner; the shortness of the
season in those Icy Seasand the sudden and violent storms to which
they are exposedforbidding any other course. The consequence is
that upon breaking into the holdand unloading one of these whale
cemeteriesin the Greenland docka savor is given forth somewhat
similar to that arising from excavating an old city grave-yardfor
the foundations of a Lying-in-Hospital.

I partly surmise alsothat this wicked charge against whalers may be
likewise imputed to the existence on the coast of Greenlandin
former timesof a Dutch village called Schmerenburgh or Smeerenberg
which latter name is the one used by the learned Fogo Von Slackin
his great work on Smellsa text-book on that subject. As its name
imports (smeerfat; bergto put up)this village was founded in
order to afford a place for the blubber of the Dutch whale fleet to
be tried outwithout being taken home to Holland for that purpose.
It was a collection of furnacesfat-kettlesand 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 perhapsafter
completely filling her hold with oildoes notperhapsconsume
fifty days in the business of boiling out; and in the state that it
is caskedthe oil is nearly scentless. The truth isthat living or
deadif but decently treatedwhales as a species are by no means
creatures of ill odor; nor can whalemen be recognisedas the people
of the middle ages affected to detect a Jew in the companyby the
nose. Nor indeed can the whale possibly be otherwise than fragrant
whenas a general thinghe enjoys such high health; taking
abundance of exercise; always out of doors; thoughit is true
seldom in the open air. I saythat the motion of a Sperm Whale's
flukes above water dispenses a perfumeas when a musk-scented lady
rustles her dress in a warm parlor. What then shall I liken the
Sperm Whale to for fragranceconsidering his magnitude? Must it not
be to that famous elephantwith jewelled tusksand redolent with
myrrhwhich was led out of an Indian town to do honour to Alexander
the Great?


The Castaway.

It was but some few days after encountering the Frenchmanthat 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

Nowin the whale shipit is not every one that goes in the boats.
Some few hands are reserved called ship-keeperswhose province it is
to work the vessel while the boats are pursuing the whale. As a
general thingthese ship-keepers are as hardy fellows as the men
comprising the boats' crews. But if there happen to be an unduly
slenderclumsyor timorous wight in the shipthat wight is certain
to be made a ship-keeper. It was so in the Pequod with the little
negro Pippin by nick-namePip by abbreviation. Poor Pip! ye have
heard of him before; ye must remember his tambourine on that dramatic
midnightso gloomy-jolly.

In outer aspectPip and Dough-Boy made a matchlike a black pony
and a white oneof equal developmentsthough of dissimilar colour
driven in one eccentric span. But while hapless Dough-Boy was by
nature dull and torpid in his intellectsPipthough over
tender-heartedwas at bottom very brightwith that pleasant
genialjolly brightness peculiar to his tribe; a tribewhich ever
enjoy all holidays and festivities with finerfreer relish than any
other race. For blacksthe year's calendar should show naught but
three hundred and sixty-five Fourth of Julys and New Year's Days.
Nor smile sowhile I write that this little black was brilliantfor
even blackness has its brilliancy; behold yon lustrous ebony
panelled in king's cabinets. But Pip loved lifeand all life's
peaceable securities; so that the panic-striking business in which he
had somehow unaccountably become entrappedhad most sadly blurred
his brightness; thoughas ere long will be seenwhat was thus
temporarily subdued in himin the end was destined to be luridly
illumined by strange wild firesthat fictitiously showed him off to
ten times the natural lustre with which in his native Tolland County
in Connecticuthe had once enlivened many a fiddler's frolic on the
green; and at melodious even-tidewith his gay ha-ha! had turned the
round horizon into one star-belled tambourine. Sothough in the
clear air of daysuspended against a blue-veined neckthe
pure-watered diamond drop will healthful glow; yetwhen the cunning
jeweller would show you the diamond in its most impressive lustrehe
lays it against a gloomy groundand then lights it upnot by the
sunbut by some unnatural gases. Then come out those fiery
effulgencesinfernally superb; then the evil-blazing diamondonce
the divinest symbol of the crystal skieslooks like some crown-jewel
stolen from the King of Hell. But let us to the story.

It came to passthat in the ambergris affair Stubb's after-oarsman
chanced so to sprain his handas for a time to become quite maimed;
andtemporarilyPip was put into his place.

The first time Stubb lowered with himPip evinced much nervousness;
but happilyfor that timeescaped close contact with the whale; and
therefore came off not altogether discreditably; though Stubb
observing himtook careafterwardsto exhort him to cherish his
courageousness to the utmostfor he might often find it needful.

Now upon the second loweringthe boat paddled upon the whale; and as
the fish received the darted ironit gave its customary rapwhich
happenedin this instanceto be right under poor Pip's seat. The
involuntary consternation of the moment caused him to leappaddle in
handout of the boat; and in such a waythat part of the slack
whale line coming against his chesthe breasted it overboard with
himso as to become entangled in itwhen at last plumping into the
water. That instant the stricken whale started on a fierce runthe
line swiftly straightened; and presto! poor Pip came all foaming up
to the chocks of the boatremorselessly 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 lineand turning towards Stubb
exclaimed interrogativelyCut?Meantime Pip's bluechoked face
plainly lookedDofor God's sake! All passed in a flash. In less
than half a minutethis entire thing happened.

Damn him, cut!roared Stubb; and so the whale was lost and Pip was

So soon as he recovered himselfthe poor little negro was assailed
by yells and execrations from the crew. Tranquilly permitting these
irregular cursings to evaporateStubb then in a plain
business-likebut still half humorous mannercursed Pip officially;
and that doneunofficially gave him much wholesome advice. The
substance wasNever jump from a boatPipexcept--but all the rest
was indefiniteas the soundest advice ever is. Nowin general
STICK TO THE BOATis your true motto in whaling; but cases will
sometimes happen when LEAP FROM THE BOATis still better. Moreover
as if perceiving at last that if he should give undiluted
conscientious advice to Piphe would be leaving him too wide a
margin to jump in for the future; Stubb suddenly dropped all advice
and concluded with a peremptory commandStick 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 hintedthat
though man loved his fellowyet man is a money-making animalwhich
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 hencewhen the whale
started to runPip was left behind on the sealike a hurried
traveller's trunk. Alas! Stubb was but too true to his word. It
was a beautifulbounteousblue day; the spangled sea calm and
cooland flatly stretching awayall roundto the horizonlike
gold-beater's skin hammered out to the extremest. Bobbing up and
down in that seaPip'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 minutesa whole mile of shoreless ocean was between Pip and
Stubb. Out from the centre of the seapoor Pip turned his crisp
curlingblack head to the sunanother lonely castawaythough the
loftiest and the brightest.

Nowin calm weatherto 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 immensitymy God! who can tell it?
Markhow 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 toat least. Because there were two boats in
his wakeand he supposedno doubtthat they would of course come
up to Pip very quicklyand pick him up; thoughindeedsuch
considerations towards oarsmen jeopardized through their own
timidityis not always manifested by the hunters in all similar
instances; and such instances not unfrequently occur; almost
invariably in the fisherya cowardso calledis marked with the
same ruthless detestation peculiar to military navies and armies.

But it so happenedthat those boatswithout seeing Pipsuddenly
spying whales close to them on one sideturnedand gave chase; and

Stubb's boat was now so far awayand he and all his crew so intent
upon his fishthat 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;
suchat leastthey said he was. The sea had jeeringly kept his
finite body upbut drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned
entirelythough. 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-mermanWisdomrevealed his
hoarded heaps; and among the joyousheartlessever-juvenile
eternitiesPip saw the multitudinousGod-omnipresentcoral
insectsthat out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal
orbs. He saw God's foot upon the treadle of the loomand spoke it;
and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man's insanity is
heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reasonman comes at
last to that celestial thoughtwhichto reasonis absurd and
frantic; and weal or woefeels then uncompromisedindifferent as
his God.

For the restblame not Stubb too hardly. The thing is common in
that fishery; and in the sequel of the narrativeit will then be
seen what like abandonment befell myself.


A Squeeze of the Hand.

That whale of Stubb'sso dearly purchasedwas duly brought to the
Pequod's sidewhere all those cutting and hoisting operations
previously detailedwere regularly gone througheven to the baling
of the Heidelburgh Tunor Case.

While some were occupied with this latter dutyothers were employed
in dragging away the larger tubsso soon as filled with the sperm;
and when the proper time arrivedthis same sperm was carefully
manipulated ere going to the try-worksof which anon.

It had cooled and crystallized to such a degreethat whenwith
several othersI sat down before a large Constantine's bath of itI
found it strangely concreted into lumpshere 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 minutesmy fingers felt like
eelsand beganas it wereto serpentine and spiralise.

As I sat there at my easecross-legged on the deck; after the bitter
exertion at the windlass; under a blue tranquil sky; the ship under
indolent sailand gliding so serenely along; as I bathed my hands
among those softgentle globules of infiltrated tissueswoven
almost within the hour; as they richly broke to my fingersand
discharged all their opulencelike fully ripe grapes their wine; as
I snuffed up that uncontaminated aroma--literally and trulylike
the smell of spring violets; I declare to youthat for the time I
lived as in a musky meadow; I forgot all about our horrible oath; in
that inexpressible spermI 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
bathI felt divinely free from all ill-willor petulanceor
maliceof 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 itmistaking their
hands for the gentle globules. Such an aboundingaffectionate
friendlyloving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was
continually squeezing their handsand looking up into their eyes
sentimentally; as much as to say--Oh! my dear fellow beingswhy
should we longer cherish any social acerbitiesor know the slightest
ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; naylet 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 prolongedrepeated experiencesI have perceived that
in all cases man must eventually loweror at least shifthis
conceit of attainable felicity; not placing it anywhere in the
intellect or the fancy; but in the wifethe heartthe bedthe
tablethe saddlethe firesidethe country; now that I have
perceived all thisI am ready to squeeze case eternally. In
thoughts of the visions of the nightI saw long rows of angels in
paradiseeach with his hands in a jar of spermaceti.

Nowwhile discoursing of spermit behooves to speak of other things
akin to itin the business of preparing the sperm whale for the

First comes white-horseso calledwhich is obtained from the
tapering part of the fishand also from the thicker portions of his
flukes. It is tough with congealed tendons--a wad of muscle--but
still contains some oil. After being severed from the whalethe
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 fleshhere and there adhering to the blanket of blubber
and often participating to a considerable degree in its unctuousness.
It is a most refreshingconvivialbeautiful object to behold. As
its name importsit is of an exceedingly richmottled tintwith a
bestreaked snowy and golden grounddotted with spots of the deepest
crimson and purple. It is plums of rubiesin pictures of citron.
Spite of reasonit is hard to keep yourself from eating it. I
confessthat 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 tastedsupposing him to have been killed the
first day after the venison seasonand that particular venison
season contemporary with an unusually fine vintage of the vineyards
of Champagne.

There is another substanceand a very singular onewhich turns up
in the course of this businessbut which I feel it to be very
puzzling adequately to describe. It is called slobgollion; an
appellation original with the whalemenand even so is the nature of
the substance. It is an ineffably oozystringy affairmost
frequently found in the tubs of spermafter a prolonged squeezing
and subsequent decanting. I hold it to be the wondrously thin
ruptured membranes of the casecoalescing.

Gurryso calledis a term properly belonging to right whalemenbut
sometimes incidentally used by the sperm fishermen. It designates
the darkglutinous substance which is scraped off the back of the
Greenland or right whaleand 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 whalemenit 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 thicknessand for
the restis about the size of the iron part of a hoe. Edgewise
moved along the oily deckit operates like a leathern squilgee; and
by nameless blandishmentsas of magicallures along with it all

But to learn all about these recondite mattersyour best way is at
once to descend into the blubber-roomand have a long talk with its
inmates. This place has previously been mentioned as the receptacle
for the blanket-pieceswhen stript and hoisted from the whale. When
the proper time arrives for cutting up its contentsthis apartment
is a scene of terror to all tyrosespecially by night. On one side
lit by a dull lanterna 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 blubberand strives to hold it
from slippingas the ship pitches and lurches about. Meanwhilethe
spade-man stands on the sheet itselfperpendicularly 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 himlike a sledge. If he
cuts off one of his own toesor one of his assistants'would you be
very much astonished? Toes are scarce among veteran blubber-room


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
windlasspretty sure am I that you would have scanned with no small
curiosity a very strangeenigmatical objectwhich you would have
seen therelying 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 youas half a glimpse of that unaccountable
cone--longer than a Kentuckian is tallnigh a foot in diameter at
the baseand jet-black as Yojothe ebony idol of Queequeg. And an
idolindeedit is; orratherin old timesits likeness was.
Such an idol as that found in the secret groves of Queen Maachah in
Judea; and for worshipping whichKing Asaher sondid depose her
and destroyed the idoland burnt it for an abomination at the brook
Kedronas darkly set forth in the 15th chapter of the First Book of

Look at the sailorcalled the mincerwho now comes alongand
assisted by two alliesheavily backs the grandissimusas the
mariners call itand with bowed shouldersstaggers off with it as
if he were a grenadier carrying a dead comrade from the field.
Extending it upon the forecastle deckhe now proceeds cylindrically
to remove its dark peltas an African hunter the pelt of a boa.
This done he turns the pelt inside outlike a pantaloon leg; gives
it a good stretchingso as almost to double its diameter; and at
last hangs itwell spreadin the riggingto dry. Ere longit is
taken down; when removing some three feet of ittowards the pointed

extremityand 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 orderthis investiture alone will adequately
protect himwhile 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 bulwarksand with a capacious tub
beneath itinto which the minced pieces dropfast as the sheets
from a rapt orator's desk. Arrayed in decent black; occupying a
conspicuous pulpit; intent on bible leaves; what a candidate for an
archbishopricwhat 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 carefuland cut his work
into as thin slices as possibleinasmuch as by so doing the business
of boiling out the oil is much acceleratedand its quantity
considerably increasedbesides perhaps improving it in quality.


The Try-Works.

Besides her hoisted boatsan 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 mainmastthe
most roomy part of the deck. The timbers beneath are of a peculiar
strengthfitted to sustain the weight of an almost solid mass of
brick and mortarsome ten feet by eight squareand five in height.
The foundation does not penetrate the deckbut the masonry is firmly
secured to the surface by ponderous knees of iron bracing it on all
sidesand screwing it down to the timbers. On the flanks it is
cased with woodand at top completely covered by a largesloping
battened hatchway. Removing this hatch we expose the great try-pots
two in numberand each of several barrels' capacity. When not in
usethey are kept remarkably clean. Sometimes they are polished
with soapstone and sandtill 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 potside by side--many
confidential communications are carried onover the iron lips. It
is a place also for profound mathematical meditation. It was in the
left hand try-pot of the Pequodwith the soapstone diligently
circling round methat I was first indirectly struck by the
remarkable factthat in geometry all bodies gliding along the
cycloidmy soapstone for examplewill descend from any point in
precisely the same time.

Removing the fire-board from the front of the try-worksthe bare
masonry of that side is exposedpenetrated by the two iron mouths of
the furnacesdirectly 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 deckby means of a shallow
reservoir extending under the entire inclosed surface of the works.
By a tunnel inserted at the rearthis 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

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 thingfor 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 usedexcept
as a means of quick ignition to the staple fuel. In a wordafter
being tried outthe crispshrivelled blubbernow called scraps or
frittersstill contains considerable of its unctuous properties.
These fritters feed the flames. Like a plethoric burning martyror
a self-consuming misanthropeonce ignitedthe whale supplies his
own fuel and burns by his own body. Would that he consumed his own
smoke! for his smoke is horrible to inhaleand inhale it you must
and not only thatbut you must live in it for the time. It has an
unspeakablewildHindoo odor about itsuch 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 that darkness was licked up by the fierce
flameswhich at intervals forked forth from the sooty fluesand
illuminated every lofty rope in the riggingas with the famed Greek
fire. The burning ship drove onas if remorselessly commissioned to
some vengeful deed. So the pitch and sulphur-freighted brigs of the
bold HydrioteCanarisissuing from their midnight harborswith
broad sheets of flame for sailsbore down upon the Turkish frigates
and folded them in conflagrations.

The hatchremoved from the top of the worksnow afforded a wide
hearth in front of them. Standing on this were the Tartarean shapes
of the pagan harpooneersalways the whale-ship's stokers. With huge
pronged poles they pitched hissing masses of blubber into the
scalding potsor stirred up the fires beneathtill the snaky flames
dartedcurlingout 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 oilwhich seemed all eagerness to leap
into their faces. Opposite the mouth of the workson the further
side of the wide wooden hearthwas the windlass. This served for a
sea-sofa. Here lounged the watchwhen not otherwise employed
looking into the red heat of the firetill their eyes felt scorched
in their heads. Their tawny featuresnow all begrimed with smoke
and sweattheir matted beardsand the contrasting barbaric
brilliancy of their teethall these were strangely revealed in the
capricious emblazonings of the works. As they narrated to each other
their unholy adventurestheir tales of terror told in words of
mirth; as their uncivilized laughter forked upwards out of themlike
the flames from the furnace; as to and froin their frontthe
harpooneers wildly gesticulated with their huge pronged forks and
dippers; as the wind howled onand the sea leapedand the ship
groaned and divedand yet steadfastly shot her red hell further and
further into the blackness of the sea and the nightand scornfully
champed the white bone in her mouthand viciously spat round her on
all sides; then the rushing Pequodfreighted with savagesand laden
with fireand burning a corpseand plunging into that blackness of
darknessseemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac
commander's soul.

So seemed it to meas I stood at her helmand for long hours
silently guided the way of this fire-ship on the sea. Wrappedfor
that intervalin darkness myselfI but the better saw the redness
the madnessthe ghastliness of others. The continual sight of the
fiend shapes before mecapering half in smoke and half in fire
these at last begat kindred visions in my soulso soon as I began to
yield to that unaccountable drowsiness which ever would come over me
at a midnight helm.

But that nightin particulara strange (and ever since
inexplicable) thing occurred to me. Starting from a brief standing
sleepI was horribly conscious of something fatally wrong. The
jaw-bone tiller smote my sidewhich leaned against it; in my ears
was the low hum of sailsjust 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.
Butspite of all thisI could see no compass before me to steer by;
though it seemed but a minute since I had been watching the cardby
the steady binnacle lamp illuminating it. Nothing seemed before me
but a jet gloomnow and then made ghastly by flashes of redness.
Uppermost was the impressionthat whatever swiftrushing thing I
stood on was not so much bound to any haven ahead as rushing from all
havens astern. A starkbewildered feelingas of deathcame over
me. Convulsively my hands grasped the tillerbut with the crazy
conceit that the tiller wassomehowin some enchanted way
inverted. My God! what is the matter with me? thought I. Lo! in my
brief sleep I had turned myself aboutand was fronting the ship's
sternwith my back to her prow and the compass. In an instant I
faced backjust in time to prevent the vessel from flying up into
the windand very probably capsizing her. How glad and how grateful
the relief from this unnatural hallucination of the nightand the
fatal contingency of being brought by the lee!

Look not too long in the face of the fireO 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-morrowin the
natural sunthe skies will be bright; those who glared like devils
in the forking flamesthe morn will show in far otherat least
gentlerrelief; the gloriousgoldenglad sunthe only true
lamp--all others but liars!

Nevertheless the sun hides not Virginia's Dismal Swampnor Rome's
accursed Campagnanor wide Saharanor 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 earthand which is two thirds of this
earth. Sothereforethat mortal man who hath more of joy than
sorrow in himthat mortal man cannot be true--not trueor
undeveloped. With books the same. The truest of all men was the Man
of Sorrowsand the truest of all books is Solomon'sand
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 jailsand walks fast
crossing graveyardsand would rather talk of operas than hell;
calls CowperYoungPascalRousseaupoor devils all of sick men;
and throughout a care-free lifetime swears by Rabelais as passing
wiseand therefore jolly;--not that man is fitted to sit down on
tomb-stonesand break the green damp mould with unfathomably
wondrous Solomon.

But even Solomonhe saysthe 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 upthento firelest

it invert theedeaden 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 gorgesand 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 plaineven
though they soar.


The Lamp.

Had you descended from the Pequod's try-works to the Pequod's
forecastlewhere the off duty watch were sleepingfor 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 vaultseach mariner a chiselled
muteness; a score of lamps flashing upon his hooded eyes.

In merchantmenoil for the sailor is more scarce than the milk of
queens. To dress in the darkand eat in the darkand stumble in
darkness to his palletthis is his usual lot. But the whalemanas
he seeks the food of lightso he lives in light. He makes his berth
an Aladdin's lampand 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 vialsthough--to the copper cooler
at the try-worksand replenishes them thereas mugs of ale at a
vat. He burnstoothe purest of oilin its unmanufacturedand
thereforeunvitiated state; a fluid unknown to solarlunaror
astral contrivances ashore. It is sweet as early grass butter in
April. He goes and hunts for his oilso as to be sure of its
freshness and genuinenesseven as the traveller on the prairie hunts
up his own supper of game.


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; howin
due timehe is condemned to the potsandlike ShadrachMeshach
and Abednegohis spermacetioiland bone pass unscathed through
the fire;--but now it remains to conclude the last chapter of this
part of the description by rehearsing--singingif I may--the
romantic proceeding of decanting off his oil into the casks and
striking them down into the holdwhere once again leviathan returns
to his native profunditiessliding along beneath the surface as
before; butalas! never more to rise and blow.

While still warmthe oillike hot punchis received into the
six-barrel casks; and whileperhapsthe ship is pitching and

rolling this way and that in the midnight seathe enormous casks are
slewed round and headed overend for endand sometimes perilously
scoot across the slippery decklike so many land slidestill at
last man-handled and stayed in their course; and all round the hoops
raprapgo as many hammers as can play upon themfor nowEX
OFFICIOevery sailor is a cooper.

At lengthwhen the last pint is caskedand all is coolthen the
great hatchways are unsealedthe bowels of the ship are thrown open
and down go the casks to their final rest in the sea. This donethe
hatches are replacedand hermetically closedlike a closet walled

In the sperm fisherythis 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
aboutas 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 afteryou look about youand prick your ears in
this self-same ship; and were it not for the tell-tale boats and
try-worksyou would all but swear you trod some silent merchant
vesselwith a most scrupulously 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. Besidesfrom the ashes of the burned scraps of
the whalea 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
bulwarksand 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-workscompletely 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
companythe 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 aglowas bridegrooms new-leaped from out the daintiest

Nowwith elated stepthey pace the planks in twos and threesand
humorously discourse of parlorssofascarpetsand fine cambrics;
propose to mat the deck; think 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 oiland boneand blubberwere
little short of audacity. They know not the thing you distantly
allude to. Awayand bring us napkins!

But mark: aloft thereat the three mast headsstand three men
intent on spying out more whaleswhichif caughtinfallibly will
again soil the old oaken furnitureand drop at least one small
grease-spot somewhere. Yes; and many is the timewhenafter the
severest uninterrupted laborswhich know no night; continuing
straight through for ninety-six hours; when from the boatwhere they
have swelled their wrists with all day rowing on the Line--they only
step to the deck to carry vast chainsand heave the heavy windlass
and cut and slashyeaand in their very sweatings to be smoked and
burned anew by the combined fires of the equatorial sun and the
equatorial try-works; whenon the heel of all thisthey have

finally bestirred themselves to cleanse the shipand make a spotless
dairy room of it; many is the time the poor fellowsjust buttoning
the necks of their clean frocksare startled by the cry of "There
she blows!" and away they fly to fight another whaleand go through
the whole weary thing again. Oh! my friendsbut this is
man-killing! Yet this is life. For hardly have we mortals by long
toilings extracted from this world's vast bulk its small but
valuable sperm; and thenwith weary patiencecleansed ourselves
from its defilementsand learned to live here in clean tabernacles
of the soul; hardly is this donewhen--THERE SHE BLOWS!--the ghost
is spouted upand away we sail to fight some other worldand go
through young life's old routine again.

Oh! the metempsychosis! Oh! Pythagorasthat in bright Greecetwo
thousand years agodid dieso goodso wiseso mild; I sailed with
thee along the Peruvian coast last voyage--andfoolish as I am
taught theea green simple boyhow to splice a rope!


The Doubloon.

Ere now it has been related how Ahab was wont to pace his
quarter-decktaking regular turns at either limitthe binnacle and
mainmast; but in the multiplicity of other things requiring narration
it has not been added how that sometimes in these walkswhen most
plunged in his moodhe was wont to pause in turn at each spotand
stand there strangely eyeing the particular object before him. When
he halted before the binnaclewith his glance fastened on the
pointed needle in the compassthat glance shot like a javelin with
the pointed intensity of his purpose; and when resuming his walk he
again paused before the mainmastthenas the same riveted glance
fastened upon the riveted gold coin therehe still wore the same
aspect of nailed firmnessonly dashed with a certain wild longing
if not hopefulness.

But one morningturning to pass the doubloonhe seemed to be newly
attracted by the strange figures and inscriptions stamped on itas
though now for the first time beginning to interpret for himself in
some monomaniac way whatever significance might lurk in them. And
some certain significance lurks in all thingselse all things are
little worthand the round world itself but an empty cipherexcept
to sell by the cartloadas they do hills about Bostonto fill up
some morass in the Milky Way.

Now this doubloon was of purestvirgin goldraked somewhere out of
the heart of gorgeous hillswhenceeast and westover golden
sandsthe head-waters of many a Pactolus flows. And though now
nailed amidst all the rustiness of iron bolts and the verdigris of
copper spikesyetuntouchable and immaculate to any foulnessit
still preserved its Quito glow. Northough placed amongst a
ruthless crew and every hour passed by ruthless handsand through
the livelong nights shrouded with thick darkness which might cover
any pilfering approachnevertheless every sunrise found the doubloon
where the sunset left it last. For it was set apart and sanctified
to one awe-striking end; and however wanton in their sailor waysone
and allthe mariners revered it as the white whale's talisman.
Sometimes they talked it over in the weary watch by nightwondering
whose it was to be at lastand whether he would ever live to spend

Now those noble golden coins of South America are as medals of the
sun and tropic token-pieces. Here palmsalpacasand volcanoes;
sun's disks and stars; eclipticshorns-of-plentyand rich banners
wavingare in luxuriant profusion stamped; so that the precious gold
seems almost to derive an added preciousness and enhancing glories
by passing through those fancy mintsso Spanishly poetic.

It so chanced that the doubloon of the Pequod was a most wealthy
example of these things. On its round border it bore the letters
REPUBLICA DEL ECUADOR: QUITO. So this bright coin came from a
country planted in the middle of the worldand beneath the great
equatorand named after it; and it had been cast midway up the
Andesin the unwaning clime that knows no autumn. Zoned by those
letters you saw the likeness of three Andes' summits; from one a
flame; a tower on another; on the third a crowing cock; while arching
over all was a segment of the partitioned zodiacthe signs all
marked with their usual cabalisticsand the keystone sun entering
the equinoctial point at Libra.

Before this equatorial coinAhabnot unobserved by otherswas now

There's something ever egotistical in mountain-tops and towers, and
all other grand and lofty things; look here,--three peaks as proud as
Lucifer. The firm tower, that is Ahab; the volcano, that is Ahab;
the courageous, the undaunted, and victorious fowl, that, too, is
Ahab; all are Ahab; and this round gold is but the image of the
rounder globe, which, like a magician's glass, to each and every man
in turn but mirrors back his own mysterious self. Great pains, small
gains for those who ask the world to solve them; it cannot solve
itself. Methinks now this coined sun wears a ruddy face; but see!
aye, he enters the sign of storms, the equinox! and but six months
before he wheeled out of a former equinox at Aries! From storm to
storm! So be it, then. Born in throes, 't is fit that man should
live in pains and die in pangs! So be it, then! Here's stout stuff
for woe to work on. So be it, then.

No fairy fingers can have pressed the gold, but devil's claws must have
left their mouldings there since yesterday,murmured Starbuck to
himselfleaning against the bulwarks. "The old man seems to read
Belshazzar's awful writing. I have never marked the coin
inspectingly. He goes below; let me read. A dark valley between
three mightyheaven-abiding peaksthat almost seem the Trinityin
some faint earthly symbol. So in this vale of DeathGod girds us
round; and over all our gloomthe sun of Righteousness still shines
a beacon and a hope. If we bend down our eyesthe dark vale shows
her mouldy soil; but if we lift themthe bright sun meets our glance
half wayto cheer. Yetohthe great sun is no fixture; and ifat
midnightwe would fain snatch some sweet solace from himwe gaze
for him in vain! This coin speaks wiselymildlytrulybut still
sadly to me. I will quit itlest Truth shake me falsely."

There now's the old Mogul,soliloquized Stubb by the try-works
he's been twigging it; and there goes Starbuck from the same, and
both with faces which I should say might be somewhere within nine
fathoms long. And all from looking at a piece of gold, which did I
have it now on Negro Hill or in Corlaer's Hook, I'd not look at it
very long ere spending it. Humph! in my poor, insignificant opinion,
I regard this as queer. I have seen doubloons before now in my
voyagings; your doubloons of old Spain, your doubloons of Peru, your
doubloons of Chili, your doubloons of Bolivia, your doubloons of
Popayan; with plenty of gold moidores and pistoles, and joes, and
half joes, and quarter joes. What then should there be in this
doubloon of the Equator that is so killing wonderful? By Golconda!

let me read it once. Halloa! here's signs and wonders truly! That,
now, is what old Bowditch in his Epitome calls the zodiac, and what
my almanac below calls ditto. I'll get the almanac and as I have
heard devils can be raised with Daboll's arithmetic, I'll try my hand
at raising a meaning out of these queer curvicues here with the
Massachusetts calendar. Here's the book. Let's see now. Signs and
wonders; and the sun, he's always among 'em. Hem, hem, hem; here
they are--here they go--all alive:--Aries, or the Ram; Taurus, or the
Bull and Jimimi! here's Gemini himself, or the Twins. Well; the sun
he wheels among 'em. Aye, here on the coin he's just crossing the
threshold between two of twelve sitting-rooms all in a ring. Book!
you lie there; the fact is, you books must know your places. You'll
do to give us the bare words and facts, but we come in to supply the
thoughts. That's my small experience, so far as the Massachusetts
calendar, and Bowditch's navigator, and Daboll's arithmetic go.
Signs and wonders, eh? Pity if there is nothing wonderful in signs,
and significant in wonders! There's a clue somewhere; wait a bit;
hist--hark! By Jove, I have it! Look you, Doubloon, your zodiac
here is the life of man in one round chapter; and now I'll read it
off, straight out of the book. Come, Almanack! To begin: there's
Aries, or the Ram--lecherous dog, he begets us; then, Taurus, or the
Bull--he bumps us the first thing; then Gemini, or the Twins--that
is, Virtue and Vice; we try to reach Virtue, when lo! comes Cancer
the Crab, and drags us back; and here, going from Virtue, Leo, a
roaring Lion, lies in the path--he gives a few fierce bites and surly
dabs with his paw; we escape, and hail Virgo, the Virgin! that's our
first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes
Libra, or the Scales--happiness weighed and found wanting; and while
we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio,
or the Scorpion, stings us in the rear; we are curing the wound, when
whang come the arrows all round; Sagittarius, or the Archer, is
amusing himself. As we pluck out the shafts, stand aside! here's
the battering-ram, Capricornus, or the Goat; full tilt, he comes
rushing, and headlong we are tossed; when Aquarius, or the
Water-bearer, pours out his whole deluge and drowns us; and to wind
up with Pisces, or the Fishes, we sleep. There's a sermon now, writ
in high heaven, and the sun goes through it every year, and yet comes
out of it all alive and hearty. Jollily he, aloft there, wheels
through toil and trouble; and so, alow here, does jolly Stubb. Oh,
jolly's the word for aye! Adieu, Doubloon! But stop; here comes
little King-Post; dodge round the try-works, now, and let's hear what
he'll have to say. There; he's before it; he'll out with something
presently. So, so; he's beginning.

I see nothing here, but a round thing made of gold, and whoever
raises a certain whale, this round thing belongs to him. So, what's
all this staring been about? It is worth sixteen dollars, that's
true; and at two cents the cigar, that's nine hundred and sixty
cigars. I won't smoke dirty pipes like Stubb, but I like cigars, and
here's nine hundred and sixty of them; so here goes Flask aloft to
spy 'em out.

Shall I call that wise or foolish, now; if it be really wise it has
a foolish look to it; yet, if it be really foolish, then has it a
sort of wiseish look to it. But, avast; here comes our old
Manxman--the old hearse-driver, he must have been, that is, before he
took to the sea. He luffs up before the doubloon; halloa, and goes
round on the other side of the mast; why, there's a horse-shoe nailed
on that side; and now he's back again; what does that mean? Hark!
he's muttering--voice like an old worn-out coffee-mill. Prick ears,
and listen!

If the White Whale be raised, it must be in a month and a day, when
the sun stands in some one of these signs. I've studied signs, and

know their marks; they were taught me two score years ago, by the old
witch in Copenhagen. Now, in what sign will the sun then be? The
horse-shoe sign; for there it is, right opposite the gold. And
what's the horse-shoe sign? The lion is the horse-shoe sign--the
roaring and devouring lion. Ship, old ship! my old head shakes to
think of thee.

There's another rendering now; but still one text. All sorts of men
in one kind of world, you see. Dodge again! here comes Queequeg--all
tattooing--looks like the signs of the Zodiac himself. What says the
Cannibal? As I live he's comparing notes; looking at his thigh bone;
thinks the sun is in the thigh, or in the calf, or in the bowels, I
suppose, as the old women talk Surgeon's Astronomy in the back
country. And by Jove, he's found something there in the vicinity of
his thigh--I guess it's Sagittarius, or the Archer. No: he don't
know what to make of the doubloon; he takes it for an old button off
some king's trowsers. But, aside again! here comes that ghost-devil,
Fedallah; tail coiled out of sight as usual, oakum in the toes of his
pumps as usual. What does he say, with that look of his? Ah, only
makes a sign to the sign and bows himself; there is a sun on the
coin--fire worshipper, depend upon it. Ho! more and more. This way
comes Pip--poor boy! would he had died, or I; he's half horrible to
me. He too has been watching all of these interpreters--myself
included--and look now, he comes to read, with that unearthly idiot
face. Stand away again and hear him. Hark!

I look, you look, he looks; we look, ye look, they look.

Upon my soul, he's been studying Murray's Grammar! Improving his
mind, poor fellow! But what's that he says now--hist!

I look, you look, he looks; we look, ye look, they look.

Why, he's getting it by heart--hist! again.

I look, you look, he looks; we look, ye look, they look.

Well, that's funny.

And I, you, and he; and we, ye, and they, are all bats; and I'm a
crow, especially when I stand a'top of this pine tree here. Caw!
caw! caw! caw! caw! caw! Ain't I a crow? And where's the
scare-crow? There he stands; two bones stuck into a pair of old
trowsers, and two more poked into the sleeves of an old jacket.

Wonder if he means me?--complimentary!--poor lad!--I could go hang
myself. Any way, for the present, I'll quit Pip's vicinity. I can
stand the rest, for they have plain wits; but he's too crazy-witty
for my sanity. So, so, I leave him muttering.

Here's the ship's navel, this doubloon here, and they are all on
fire to unscrew it. But, unscrew your navel, and what's the
consequence? Then again, if it stays here, that is ugly, too, for
when aught's nailed to the mast it's a sign that things grow
desperate. Ha, ha! old Ahab! the White Whale; he'll nail ye! This
is a pine tree. My father, in old Tolland county, cut down a pine
tree once, and found a silver ring grown over in it; some old
darkey's wedding ring. How did it get there? And so they'll say in
the resurrection, when they come to fish up this old mast, and find a
doubloon lodged in it, with bedded oysters for the shaggy bark. Oh,
the gold! the precious, precious, gold! the green miser'll hoard ye
soon! Hish! hish! God goes 'mong the worlds blackberrying. Cook!
ho, cook! and cook us! Jenny! hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, Jenny, Jenny!
and get your hoe-cake done!


Leg and Arm.

The Pequodof NantucketMeets the Samuel Enderbyof London.

Ship, ahoy! Hast seen the White Whale?

So cried Ahabonce more hailing a ship showing English colours
bearing down under the stern. Trumpet to mouththe old man was
standing in his hoisted quarter-boathis ivory leg plainly revealed
to the stranger captainwho was carelessly reclining in his own
boat's bow. He was a darkly-tannedburlygood-natured
fine-looking manof sixty or thereaboutsdressed in a spacious
roundaboutthat hung round him in festoons of blue pilot-cloth; and
one empty arm of this jacket streamed behind him like the broidered
arm of a hussar's surcoat.

Hast seen the White Whale!

See you this?and withdrawing it from the folds that had hidden
ithe held up a white arm of sperm whale boneterminating in a
wooden head like a mallet.

Man my boat!cried Ahabimpetuouslyand tossing about the oars
near him--"Stand by to lower!"

In less than a minutewithout quitting his little crafthe and his
crew were dropped to the waterand were soon alongside of the
stranger. But here a curious difficulty presented itself. In the
excitement of the momentAhab had forgotten that since the loss of
his leg he had never once stepped on board of any vessel at sea but
his ownand then it was always by an ingenious and very handy
mechanical contrivance peculiar to the Pequodand a thing not to be
rigged and shipped in any other vessel at a moment's warning. Now
it is no very easy matter for anybody--except those who are almost
hourly used to itlike whalemen--to clamber up a ship's side from a
boat on the open sea; for the great swells now lift the boat high up
towards the bulwarksand then instantaneously drop it half way down
to the kelson. Sodeprived of one legand the strange ship of
course being altogether unsupplied with the kindly inventionAhab
now found himself abjectly reduced to a clumsy landsman again;
hopelessly eyeing the uncertain changeful height he could hardly hope
to attain.

It has before been hintedperhapsthat every little untoward
circumstance that befell himand which indirectly sprang from his
luckless mishapalmost invariably irritated or exasperated Ahab.
And in the present instanceall this was heightened by the sight of
the two officers of the strange shipleaning over the sideby the
perpendicular ladder of nailed cleets thereand swinging towards him
a pair of tastefully-ornamented man-ropes; for at first they did not
seem to bethink them that a one-legged man must be too much of a
cripple to use their sea bannisters. But this awkwardness only
lasted a minutebecause the strange captainobserving at a glance
how affairs stoodcried outI see, I see!--avast heaving there!
Jump, boys, and swing over the cutting-tackle.

As good luck would have itthey had had a whale alongside a day or
two previousand the great tackles were still aloftand the massive

curved blubber-hooknow clean and drywas still attached to the
end. This was quickly lowered to Ahabwho at once comprehending it
allslid his solitary thigh into the curve of the hook (it was like
sitting in the fluke of an anchoror the crotch of an apple tree)
and then giving the wordheld himself fastand at the same time
also helped to hoist his own weightby pulling hand-over-hand upon
one of the running parts of the tackle. Soon he was carefully swung
inside the high bulwarksand gently landed upon the capstan head.
With his ivory arm frankly thrust forth in welcomethe other captain
advancedand Ahabputting out his ivory legand crossing the ivory
arm (like two sword-fish blades) cried out in his walrus wayAye,
aye, hearty! let us shake bones together!--an arm and a leg!--an arm
that never can shrink, d'ye see; and a leg that never can run. Where
did'st thou see the White Whale?--how long ago?

The White Whale,said the Englishmanpointing his ivory arm
towards the Eastand taking a rueful sight along itas if it had
been a telescope; "there I saw himon the Linelast season."

And he took that arm off, did he?asked Ahabnow sliding down from
the capstanand resting on the Englishman's shoulderas he did so.

Aye, he was the cause of it, at least; and that leg, too?

Spin me the yarn,said Ahab; "how was it?"

It was the first time in my life that I ever cruised on the Line,
began the Englishman. "I was ignorant of the White Whale at that
time. Wellone day we lowered for a pod of four or five whalesand
my boat fastened to one of them; a regular circus horse he wastoo
that went milling and milling round sothat my boat's crew could
only trim dishby sitting all their sterns on the outer gunwale.
Presently up breaches from the bottom of the sea a bouncing great
whalewith a milky-white head and humpall crows' feet and

It was he, it was he!cried Ahabsuddenly letting out his
suspended breath.

And harpoons sticking in near his starboard fin.

Aye, aye--they were mine--MY irons,cried Ahabexultingly--"but

Give me a chance, then,said the Englishmangood-humoredly.
Well, this old great-grandfather, with the white head and hump, runs
all afoam into the pod, and goes to snapping furiously at my

AyeI see!--wanted to part it; free the fast-fish--an old trick--I
know him."

How it was exactly,continued the one-armed commanderI do not
know; but in biting the line, it got foul of his teeth, caught there
somehow; but we didn't know it then; so that when we afterwards
pulled on the line, bounce we came plump on to his hump! instead of
the other whale's; that went off to windward, all fluking. Seeing
how matters stood, and what a noble great whale it was--the noblest
and biggest I ever saw, sir, in my life--I resolved to capture him,
spite of the boiling rage he seemed to be in. And thinking the
hap-hazard line would get loose, or the tooth it was tangled to
might draw (for I have a devil of a boat's crew for a pull on a
whale-line); seeing all this, I say, I jumped into my first mate's
boat--Mr. Mounttop's here (by the way, Captain--Mounttop;

Mounttop--the captain);--as I was saying, I jumped into Mounttop's
boat, which, d'ye see, was gunwale and gunwale with mine, then; and
snatching the first harpoon, let this old great-grandfather have it.
But, Lord, look you, sir--hearts and souls alive, man--the next
instant, in a jiff, I was blind as a bat--both eyes out--all befogged
and bedeadened with black foam--the whale's tail looming straight up
out of it, perpendicular in the air, like a marble steeple. No use
sterning all, then; but as I was groping at midday, with a blinding
sun, all crown-jewels; as I was groping, I say, after the second
iron, to toss it overboard--down comes the tail like a Lima tower,
cutting my boat in two, leaving each half in splinters; and, flukes
first, the white hump backed through the wreck, as though it was all
chips. We all struck out. To escape his terrible flailings, I
seized hold of my harpoon-pole sticking in him, and for a moment
clung to that like a sucking fish. But a combing sea dashed me off,
and at the same instant, the fish, taking one good dart forwards,
went down like a flash; and the barb of that cursed second iron
towing along near me caught me here(clapping his hand just below
his shoulder); "yescaught me just hereI sayand bore me down to
Hell's flamesI was thinking; whenwhenall of a suddenthank the
good Godthe barb ript its way along the flesh--clear along the
whole length of my arm--came out nigh my wristand up I
floated;--and that gentleman there will tell you the rest (by the
waycaptain--Dr. Bungership's surgeon: Bungermy lad--the
captain). NowBunger boyspin your part of the yarn."

The professional gentleman thus familiarly pointed outhad been all
the time standing near themwith nothing specific visibleto denote
his gentlemanly rank on board. His face was an exceedingly round but
sober one; he was dressed in a faded blue woollen frock or shirtand
patched trowsers; and had thus far been dividing his attention
between a marlingspike he held in one handand a pill-box held in
the otheroccasionally casting a critical glance at the ivory limbs
of the two crippled captains. Butat his superior's introduction of
him to Ahabhe politely bowedand straightway went on to do his
captain's bidding.

It was a shocking bad wound,began the whale-surgeon; "andtaking
my adviceCaptain Boomer herestood our old Sammy--"

Samuel Enderby is the name of my ship,interrupted the one-armed
captainaddressing Ahab; "go onboy."

Stood our old Sammy off to the northward, to get out of the blazing
hot weather there on the Line. But it was no use--I did all I could;
sat up with him nights; was very severe with him in the matter of

Oh, very severe!chimed in the patient himself; then suddenly
altering his voiceDrinking hot rum toddies with me every night,
till he couldn't see to put on the bandages; and sending me to bed,
half seas over, about three o'clock in the morning. Oh, ye stars! he
sat up with me indeed, and was very severe in my diet. Oh! a great
watcher, and very dietetically severe, is Dr. Bunger. (Bunger, you
dog, laugh out! why don't ye? You know you're a precious jolly
rascal.) But, heave ahead, boy, I'd rather be killed by you than kept
alive by any other man.

My captain, you must have ere this perceived, respected sir--said
the imperturbable godly-looking Bungerslightly bowing to Ahab--"is
apt to be facetious at times; he spins us many clever things of that
sort. But I may as well say--en passantas the French remark--that
I myself--that is to sayJack Bungerlate of the reverend
clergy--am a strict total abstinence man; I never drink--"

Water!cried the captain; "he never drinks it; it's a sort of fits
to him; fresh water throws him into the hydrophobia; but go on--go on
with the arm story."

Yes, I may as well,said the surgeoncoolly. "I was about
observingsirbefore Captain Boomer's facetious interruptionthat
spite of my best and severest endeavorsthe wound kept getting worse
and worse; the truth wassirit was as ugly gaping wound as surgeon
ever saw; more than two feet and several inches long. I measured it
with the lead line. In shortit grew black; I knew what was
threatenedand off it came. But I had no hand in shipping that
ivory arm there; that thing is against all rule"--pointing at it with
the marlingspike--"that is the captain's worknot mine; he ordered
the carpenter to make it; he had that club-hammer there put to the
endto knock some one's brains out withI supposeas he tried mine
once. He flies into diabolical passions sometimes. Do ye see this
dentsir"--removing his hatand brushing aside his hairand
exposing a bowl-like cavity in his skullbut which bore not the
slightest scarry traceor any token of ever having been a
wound--"Wellthe captain there will tell you how that came here;
he knows."

No, I don't,said the captainbut his mother did; he was born
with it. Oh, you solemn rogue, you--you Bunger! was there ever such
another Bunger in the watery world? Bunger, when you die, you ought
to die in pickle, you dog; you should be preserved to future ages,
you rascal.

What became of the White Whale?now cried Ahabwho thus far had
been impatiently listening to this by-play between the two

Oh!cried the one-armed captainoh, yes! Well; after he sounded,
we didn't see him again for some time; in fact, as I before hinted, I
didn't then know what whale it was that had served me such a trick,
till some time afterwards, when coming back to the Line, we heard
about Moby Dick--as some call him--and then I knew it was he.

Did'st thou cross his wake again?


But could not fasten?

Didn't want to try to: ain't one limb enough? What should I do
without this other arm? And I'm thinking Moby Dick doesn't bite so
much as he swallows.

Well, then,interrupted Bungergive him your left arm for bait to
get the right. Do you know, gentlemen--very gravely and
mathematically bowing to each Captain in succession--"Do you know
gentlementhat the digestive organs of the whale are so inscrutably
constructed by Divine Providencethat it is quite impossible for him
to completely digest even a man's arm? And he knows it too. So that
what you take for the White Whale's malice is only his awkwardness.
For he never means to swallow a single limb; he only thinks to
terrify by feints. But sometimes he is like the old juggling fellow
formerly a patient of mine in Ceylonthat making believe swallow
jack-knivesonce upon a time let one drop into him in good earnest
and there it stayed for a twelvemonth or more; when I gave him an
emeticand he heaved it up in small tacksd'ye see. No possible
way for him to digest that jack-knifeand fully incorporate it into
his general bodily system. YesCaptain Boomerif you are quick

enough about itand have a mind to pawn one arm for the sake of the
privilege of giving decent burial to the otherwhy in that case
the arm is yours; only let the whale have another chance at you
shortlythat's all."

No, thank ye, Bunger,said the English Captainhe's welcome to
the arm he has, since I can't help it, and didn't know him then; but
not to another one. No more White Whales for me; I've lowered for
him once, and that has satisfied me. There would be great glory in
killing him, I know that; and there is a ship-load of precious sperm
in him, but, hark ye, he's best let alone; don't you think so,
Captain?--glancing at the ivory leg.

He is. But he will still be hunted, for all that. What is best let
alone, that accursed thing is not always what least allures. He's
all a magnet! How long since thou saw'st him last? Which way

Bless my soul, and curse the foul fiend's,cried Bungerstoopingly
walking round Ahaband like a dogstrangely snuffing; "this man's
blood--bring the thermometer!--it's at the boiling point!--his pulse
makes these planks beat!--sir!"--taking a lancet from his pocketand
drawing near to Ahab's arm.

Avast!roared Ahabdashing him against the bulwarks--"Man the
boat! Which way heading?"

Good God!cried the English Captainto whom the question was put.
What's the matter? He was heading east, I think.--Is your Captain
crazy?whispering Fedallah.

But Fedallahputting a finger on his lipslid over the bulwarks to
take the boat's steering oarand Ahabswinging the cutting-tackle
towards himcommanded the ship's sailors to stand by to lower.

In a moment he was standing in the boat's sternand the Manilla men
were springing to their oars. In vain the English Captain hailed
him. With back to the stranger shipand face set like a flint to
his ownAhab stood upright till alongside of the Pequod.


The Decanter.

Ere the English ship fades from sightbe it set down herethat she
hailed from Londonand was named after the late Samuel Enderby
merchant of that citythe original of the famous whaling house of
Enderby & Sons; a house which in my poor whaleman's opinioncomes
not far behind the united royal houses of the Tudors and Bourbonsin
point of real historical interest. How longprior to the year of
our Lord 1775this great whaling house was in existencemy numerous
fish-documents do not make plain; but in that year (1775) it fitted
out the first English ships that ever regularly hunted the Sperm
Whale; though for some score of years previous (ever since 1726) our
valiant Coffins and Maceys of Nantucket and the Vineyard had in large
fleets pursued that Leviathanbut only in the North and South
Atlantic: not elsewhere. Be it distinctly recorded herethat the
Nantucketers were the first among mankind to harpoon with civilized
steel the great Sperm Whale; and that for half a century they were
the only people of the whole globe who so harpooned him.

In 1778a fine shipthe Ameliafitted out for the express purpose
and at the sole charge of the vigorous Enderbysboldly rounded Cape
Hornand was the first among the nations to lower a whale-boat of
any sort in the great South Sea. The voyage was a skilful and lucky
one; and returning to her berth with her hold full of the precious
spermthe Amelia's example was soon followed by other shipsEnglish
and Americanand thus the vast Sperm Whale grounds of the Pacific
were thrown open. But not content with this good deedthe
indefatigable house again bestirred itself: Samuel and all his
Sons--how manytheir mother only knows--and under their immediate
auspicesand partlyI thinkat their expensethe British
government was induced to send the sloop-of-war Rattler on a whaling
voyage of discovery into the South Sea. Commanded by a naval
Post-Captainthe Rattler made a rattling voyage of itand did some
service; how much does not appear. But this is not all. In 1819
the same house fitted out a discovery whale ship of their ownto go
on a tasting cruise to the remote waters of Japan. That ship--well
called the "Syren"--made a noble experimental cruise; and it was thus
that the great Japanese Whaling Ground first became generally known.
The Syren in this famous voyage was commanded by a Captain Coffina

All honour to the Enderbiesthereforewhose houseI thinkexists
to the present day; though doubtless the original Samuel must long
ago have slipped his cable for the great South Sea of the other

The ship named after him was worthy of the honourbeing a very fast
sailer and a noble craft every way. I boarded her once at midnight
somewhere off the Patagonian coastand drank good flip down in the
forecastle. It was a fine gam we hadand they were all
trumps--every soul on board. A short life to themand a jolly
death. And that fine gam I had--longvery long after old Ahab
touched her planks with his ivory heel--it minds me of the noble
solidSaxon hospitality of that ship; and may my parson forget me
and the devil remember meif I ever lose sight of it. Flip? Did I
say we had flip? Yesand we flipped it at the rate of ten gallons
the hour; and when the squall came (for it's squally off there by
Patagonia)and all hands--visitors and all--were called to reef
topsailswe were so top-heavy that we had to swing each other aloft
in bowlines; and we ignorantly furled the skirts of our jackets into
the sailsso that we hung therereefed fast in the howling galea
warning example to all drunken tars. Howeverthe masts did not go
overboard; and by and by we scrambled downso soberthat we had to
pass the flip againthough the savage salt spray bursting down the
forecastle scuttlerather too much diluted and pickled it to my

The beef was fine--toughbut with body in it. They said it was
bull-beef; othersthat it was dromedary beef; but I do not knowfor
certainhow that was. They had dumplings too; smallbut
substantialsymmetrically globularand indestructible dumplings. I
fancied that you could feel themand roll them about in you after
they were swallowed. If you stooped over too far forwardyou risked
their pitching out of you like billiard-balls. The bread--but that
couldn't be helped; besidesit was an anti-scorbutic; in shortthe
bread contained the only fresh fare they had. But the forecastle was
not very lightand it was very easy to step over into a dark corner
when you ate it. But all in alltaking her from truck to helm
considering the dimensions of the cook's boilersincluding his own
live parchment boilers; fore and aftI saythe Samuel Enderby was a
jolly ship; of good fare and plenty; fine flip and strong; crack
fellows alland capital from boot heels to hat-band.

But why was itthink yethat the Samuel Enderbyand some other
English whalers I know of--not all though--were such famous
hospitable ships; that passed round the beefand the breadand the
canand the joke; and were not soon weary of eatingand drinking
and laughing? I will tell you. The abounding good cheer of these
English whalers is matter for historical research. Nor have I been
at all sparing of historical whale researchwhen it has seemed

The English were preceded in the whale fishery by the Hollanders
Zealandersand Danes; from whom they derived many terms still extant
in the fishery; and what is yet moretheir fat old fashions
touching plenty to eat and drink. Foras a general thingthe
English merchant-ship scrimps her crew; but not so the English
whaler. Hencein the Englishthis thing of whaling good cheer is
not normal and naturalbut incidental and particular; and
thereforemust have some special originwhich is here pointed out
and will be still further elucidated.

During my researches in the Leviathanic historiesI stumbled upon an
ancient Dutch volumewhichby the musty whaling smell of itI knew
must be about whalers. The title wasDan Coopman,wherefore I
concluded that this must be the invaluable memoirs of some Amsterdam
cooper in the fisheryas every whale ship must carry its cooper. I
was reinforced in this opinion by seeing that it was the production
of one "Fitz Swackhammer." But my friend Dr. Snodheada very
learned manprofessor of Low Dutch and High German in the college of
Santa Claus and St. Pott'sto whom I handed the work for
translationgiving him a box of sperm candles for his trouble--this
same Dr. Snodheadso soon as he spied the bookassured me that "Dan
Coopman" did not mean "The Cooper but The Merchant." In short
this ancient and learned Low Dutch book treated of the commerce of
Holland; andamong other subjectscontained a very interesting
account of its whale fishery. And in this chapter it washeaded
Smeer,or "Fat that I found a long detailed list of the outfits
for the larders and cellars of 180 sail of Dutch whalemen; from which
list, as translated by Dr. Snodhead, I transcribe the following:

400,000 lbs. of beef.
60,000 lbs. Friesland pork.
150,000 lbs. of stock fish.
550,000 lbs. of biscuit.
72,000 lbs. of soft bread.
2,800 firkins of butter.
20,000 lbs. Texel & Leyden cheese.
144,000 lbs. cheese (probably an inferior article).
550 ankers of Geneva.
10,800 barrels of beer.

Most statistical tables are parchingly dry in the reading; not so in
the present case, however, where the reader is flooded with whole
pipes, barrels, quarts, and gills of good gin and good cheer.

At the time, I devoted three days to the studious digesting of all
this beer, beef, and bread, during which many profound thoughts were
incidentally suggested to me, capable of a transcendental and
Platonic application; and, furthermore, I compiled supplementary
tables of my own, touching the probable quantity of stock-fish, etc.,
consumed by every Low Dutch harpooneer in that ancient Greenland and
Spitzbergen whale fishery. In the first place, the amount of butter,
and Texel and Leyden cheese consumed, seems amazing. I impute it,
though, to their naturally unctuous natures, being rendered still
more unctuous by the nature of their vocation, and especially by
their pursuing their game in those frigid Polar Seas, on the very

coasts of that Esquimaux country where the convivial natives pledge
each other in bumpers of train oil.

The quantity of beer, too, is very large, 10,800 barrels. Now,
as those polar fisheries could only be prosecuted in the short summer
of that climate, so that the whole cruise of one of these Dutch
whalemen, including the short voyage to and from the Spitzbergen sea,
did not much exceed three months, say, and reckoning 30 men to each
of their fleet of 180 sail, we have 5,400 Low Dutch seamen in all;
therefore, I say, we have precisely two barrels of beer per man, for
a twelve weeks' allowance, exclusive of his fair proportion of that
550 ankers of gin. Now, whether these gin and beer harpooneers, so
fuddled as one might fancy them to have been, were the right sort of
men to stand up in a boat's head, and take good aim at flying whales;
this would seem somewhat improbable. Yet they did aim at them, and
hit them too. But this was very far North, be it remembered, where
beer agrees well with the constitution; upon the Equator, in our
southern fishery, beer would be apt to make the harpooneer sleepy at
the mast-head and boozy in his boat; and grievous loss might ensue to
Nantucket and New Bedford.

But no more; enough has been said to show that the old Dutch whalers
of two or three centuries ago were high livers; and that the English
whalers have not neglected so excellent an example. For, say they,
when cruising in an empty ship, if you can get nothing better out of
the world, get a good dinner out of it, at least. And this empties
the decanter.


A Bower in the Arsacides.

Hitherto, in descriptively treating of the Sperm Whale, I have
chiefly dwelt upon the marvels of his outer aspect; or separately and
in detail upon some few interior structural features. But to a large
and thorough sweeping comprehension of him, it behooves me now to
unbutton him still further, and untagging the points of his hose,
unbuckling his garters, and casting loose the hooks and the eyes of
the joints of his innermost bones, set him before you in his
ultimatum; that is to say, in his unconditional skeleton.

But how now, Ishmael? How is it, that you, a mere oarsman in the
fishery, pretend to know aught about the subterranean parts of the
whale? Did erudite Stubb, mounted upon your capstan, deliver
lectures on the anatomy of the Cetacea; and by help of the windlass,
hold up a specimen rib for exhibition? Explain thyself, Ishmael.
Can you land a full-grown whale on your deck for examination, as a
cook dishes a roast-pig? Surely not. A veritable witness have you
hitherto been, Ishmael; but have a care how you seize the privilege
of Jonah alone; the privilege of discoursing upon the joists and
beams; the rafters, ridge-pole, sleepers, and under-pinnings, making
up the frame-work of leviathan; and belike of the tallow-vats,
dairy-rooms, butteries, and cheeseries in his bowels.

I confess, that since Jonah, few whalemen have penetrated very far
beneath the skin of the adult whale; nevertheless, I have been
blessed with an opportunity to dissect him in miniature. In a ship I
belonged to, a small cub Sperm Whale was once bodily hoisted to the
deck for his poke or bag, to make sheaths for the barbs of the
harpoons, and for the heads of the lances. Think you I let that
chance go, without using my boat-hatchet and jack-knife, and breaking

the seal and reading all the contents of that young cub?

And as for my exact knowledge of the bones of the leviathan in their
gigantic, full grown development, for that rare knowledge I am
indebted to my late royal friend Tranquo, king of Tranque, one of
the Arsacides. For being at Tranque, years ago, when attached to the
trading-ship Dey of Algiers, I was invited to spend part of the
Arsacidean holidays with the lord of Tranque, at his retired palm
villa at Pupella; a sea-side glen not very far distant from what our
sailors called Bamboo-Town, his capital.

Among many other fine qualities, my royal friend Tranquo, being
gifted with a devout love for all matters of barbaric vertu, had
brought together in Pupella whatever rare things the more ingenious
of his people could invent; chiefly carved woods of wonderful
devices, chiselled shells, inlaid spears, costly paddles, aromatic
canoes; and all these distributed among whatever natural wonders, the
wonder-freighted, tribute-rendering waves had cast upon his shores.

Chief among these latter was a great Sperm Whale, which, after an
unusually long raging gale, had been found dead and stranded, with
his head against a cocoa-nut tree, whose plumage-like, tufted
droopings seemed his verdant jet. When the vast body had at last
been stripped of its fathom-deep enfoldings, and the bones become
dust dry in the sun, then the skeleton was carefully transported up
the Pupella glen, where a grand temple of lordly palms now sheltered

The ribs were hung with trophies; the vertebrae were carved with
Arsacidean annals, in strange hieroglyphics; in the skull, the
priests kept up an unextinguished aromatic flame, so that the mystic
head again sent forth its vapoury spout; while, suspended from a
bough, the terrific lower jaw vibrated over all the devotees, like
the hair-hung sword that so affrighted Damocles.

It was a wondrous sight. The wood was green as mosses of the Icy
Glen; the trees stood high and haughty, feeling their living sap; the
industrious earth beneath was as a weaver's loom, with a gorgeous
carpet on it, whereof the ground-vine tendrils formed the warp and
woof, and the living flowers the figures. All the trees, with all
their laden branches; all the shrubs, and ferns, and grasses; the
message-carrying air; all these unceasingly were active. Through the
lacings of the leaves, the great sun seemed a flying shuttle weaving
the unwearied verdure. Oh, busy weaver! unseen weaver!--pause!--one
word!--whither flows the fabric? what palace may it deck? wherefore
all these ceaseless toilings? Speak, weaver!--stay thy hand!--but
one single word with thee! Nay--the shuttle flies--the figures float
from forth the loom; the freshet-rushing carpet for ever slides
away. The weaver-god, he weaves; and by that weaving is he deafened,
that he hears no mortal voice; and by that humming, we, too, who look
on the loom are deafened; and only when we escape it shall we hear
the thousand voices that speak through it. For even so it is in all
material factories. The spoken words that are inaudible among the
flying spindles; those same words are plainly heard without the
walls, bursting from the opened casements. Thereby have villainies
been detected. Ah, mortal! then, be heedful; for so, in all this din
of the great world's loom, thy subtlest thinkings may be overheard

Now, amid the green, life-restless loom of that Arsacidean wood, the
great, white, worshipped skeleton lay lounging--a gigantic idler!
Yet, as the ever-woven verdant warp and woof intermixed and hummed
around him, the mighty idler seemed the cunning weaver; himself all
woven over with the vines; every month assuming greener, fresher

verdure; but himself a skeleton. Life folded Death; Death trellised
Life; the grim god wived with youthful Life, and begat him
curly-headed glories.

Now, when with royal Tranquo I visited this wondrous whale, and saw
the skull an altar, and the artificial smoke ascending from where the
real jet had issued, I marvelled that the king should regard a chapel
as an object of vertu. He laughed. But more I marvelled that the
priests should swear that smoky jet of his was genuine. To and fro I
paced before this skeleton--brushed the vines aside--broke through
the ribs--and with a ball of Arsacidean twine, wandered, eddied long
amid its many winding, shaded colonnades and arbours. But soon my
line was out; and following it back, I emerged from the opening where I
entered. I saw no living thing within; naught was there but bones.

Cutting me a green measuring-rod, I once more dived within the
skeleton. From their arrow-slit in the skull, the priests perceived
me taking the altitude of the final rib, How now!" they shouted;
Dar'st thou measure this our god! That's for us.Aye,
priests--well, how long do ye make him, then?But hereupon a fierce
contest rose among themconcerning feet and inches; they cracked
each other's sconces with their yard-sticks--the great skull
echoed--and seizing that lucky chanceI quickly concluded my own

These admeasurements I now propose to set before you. But firstbe
it recordedthatin this matterI am not free to utter any fancied
measurement I please. Because there are skeleton authorities you
can refer toto test my accuracy. There is a Leviathanic Museum
they tell mein HullEnglandone of the whaling ports of that
countrywhere they have some fine specimens of fin-backs and other
whales. LikewiseI have heard that in the museum of Manchesterin
New Hampshirethey have what the proprietors call "the only perfect
specimen of a Greenland or River Whale in the United States."
Moreoverat a place in YorkshireEnglandBurton Constable by name
a certain Sir Clifford Constable has in his possession the skeleton
of a Sperm Whalebut of moderate sizeby no means of the full-grown
magnitude of my friend King Tranquo's.

In both casesthe stranded whales to which these two skeletons
belongedwere originally claimed by their proprietors upon similar
grounds. King Tranquo seizing his because he wanted it; and Sir
Cliffordbecause he was lord of the seignories of those parts. Sir
Clifford's whale has been articulated throughout; so thatlike a
great chest of drawersyou can open and shut himin all his bony
cavities--spread out his ribs like a gigantic fan--and swing all day
upon his lower jaw. Locks are to be put upon some of his trap-doors
and shutters; and a footman will show round future visitors with a
bunch of keys at his side. Sir Clifford thinks of charging twopence
for a peep at the whispering gallery in the spinal column; threepence
to hear the echo in the hollow of his cerebellum; and sixpence for
the unrivalled view from his forehead.

The skeleton dimensions I shall now proceed to set down are copied
verbatim from my right armwhere I had them tattooed; as in my wild
wanderings at that periodthere was no other secure way of
preserving such valuable statistics. But as I was crowded for space
and wished the other parts of my body to remain a blank page for a
poem I was then composing--at leastwhat untattooed parts might
remain--I did not trouble myself with the odd inches; norindeed
should inches at all enter into a congenial admeasurement of the


Measurement of The Whale's Skeleton.

In the first placeI wish to lay before you a particularplain
statementtouching the living bulk of this leviathanwhose skeleton
we are briefly to exhibit. Such a statement may prove useful here.

According to a careful calculation I have madeand which I partly
base upon Captain Scoresby's estimateof seventy tons for the
largest sized Greenland whale of sixty feet in length; according to
my careful calculationI saya Sperm Whale of the largest
magnitudebetween eighty-five and ninety feet in lengthand
something less than forty feet in its fullest circumferencesuch a
whale will weigh at least ninety tons; so thatreckoning thirteen
men to a tonhe would considerably outweigh the combined population
of a whole village of one thousand one hundred inhabitants.

Think you not then that brainslike yoked cattleshould be put to
this leviathanto make him at all budge to any landsman's

Having already in various ways put before you his skullspout-hole
jawteethtailforeheadfinsand divers other partsI shall now
simply point out what is most interesting in the general bulk of his
unobstructed bones. But as the colossal skull embraces so very large
a proportion of the entire extent of the skeleton; as it is by far
the most complicated part; and as nothing is to be repeated
concerning it in this chapteryou must not fail to carry it in your
mindor under your armas we proceedotherwise you will not gain a
complete notion of the general structure we are about to view.

In lengththe Sperm Whale's skeleton at Tranque measured seventy-two
Feet; so that when fully invested and extended in lifehe must have
been ninety feet long; for in the whalethe skeleton loses about one
fifth in length compared with the living body. Of this seventy-two
feethis skull and jaw comprised some twenty feetleaving some
fifty feet of plain back-bone. Attached to this back-bonefor
something less than a third of its lengthwas the mighty circular
basket of ribs which once enclosed his vitals.

To me this vast ivory-ribbed chestwith the longunrelieved spine
extending far away from it in a straight linenot a little resembled
the hull of a great ship new-laid upon the stockswhen only some
twenty of her naked bow-ribs are insertedand the keel is otherwise
for the timebut a longdisconnected timber.

The ribs were ten on a side. The firstto begin from the neckwas
nearly six feet long; the secondthirdand fourth were each
successively longertill you came to the climax of the fifthor one
of the middle ribswhich measured eight feet and some inches. From
that partthe remaining ribs diminishedtill the tenth and last
only spanned five feet and some inches. In general thicknessthey
all bore a seemly correspondence to their length. The middle ribs
were the most arched. In some of the Arsacides they are used for
beams whereon to lay footpath bridges over small streams.

In considering these ribsI could not but be struck anew with the
circumstanceso variously repeated in this bookthat the skeleton
of the whale is by no means the mould of his invested form. The
largest of the Tranque ribsone of the middle onesoccupied that
part of the fish whichin lifeis greatest in depth. Nowthe

greatest depth of the invested body of this particular whale must
have been at least sixteen feet; whereasthe corresponding rib
measured but little more than eight feet. So that this rib only
conveyed half of the true notion of the living magnitude of that
part. Besidesfor some waywhere I now saw but a naked spineall
that had been once wrapped round with tons of added bulk in flesh
musclebloodand bowels. Still morefor the ample finsI here
saw but a few disordered joints; and in place of the weighty and
majesticbut boneless flukesan utter blank!

How vain and foolishthenthought Ifor timid untravelled man to
try to comprehend aright this wondrous whaleby merely poring over
his dead attenuated skeletonstretched in this peaceful wood. No.
Only in the heart of quickest perils; only when within the eddyings
of his angry flukes; only on the profound unbounded seacan the
fully invested whale be truly and livingly found out.

But the spine. For thatthe best way we can consider it iswith a
craneto pile its bones high up on end. No speedy enterprise. But
now it's doneit looks much like Pompey's Pillar.

There are forty and odd vertebrae in allwhich in the skeleton are
not locked together. They mostly lie like the great knobbed blocks
on a Gothic spireforming solid courses of heavy masonry. The
largesta middle oneis in width something less than three feet
and in depth more than four. The smallestwhere the spine tapers
away into the tailis only two inches in widthand looks something
like a white billiard-ball. I was told that there were still smaller
onesbut they had been lost by some little cannibal urchinsthe
priest's childrenwho had stolen them to play marbles with. Thus we
see how that the spine of even the hugest of living things tapers off
at last into simple child's play.


The Fossil Whale.

From his mighty bulk the whale affords a most congenial theme whereon
to enlargeamplifyand generally expatiate. Would youyou could
not compress him. By good rights he should only be treated of in
imperial folio. Not to tell over again his furlongs from spiracle to
tailand the yards he measures about the waist; only think of the
gigantic involutions of his intestineswhere they lie in him like
great cables and hawsers coiled away in the subterranean orlop-deck
of a line-of-battle-ship.

Since I have undertaken to manhandle this Leviathanit behooves me
to approve myself omnisciently exhaustive in the enterprise; not
overlooking the minutest seminal germs of his bloodand spinning him
out to the uttermost coil of his bowels. Having already described
him in most of his present habitatory and anatomical peculiarities
it now remains to magnify him in an archaeologicalfossiliferous
and antediluvian point of view. Applied to any other creature than
the Leviathan--to an ant or a flea--such portly terms might justly be
deemed unwarrantably grandiloquent. But when Leviathan is the text
the case is altered. Fain am I to stagger to this emprise under
the weightiest words of the dictionary. And here be it saidthat
whenever it has been convenient to consult one in the course of these
dissertationsI have invariably used a huge quarto edition of
Johnsonexpressly purchased for that purpose; because that famous
lexicographer's uncommon personal bulk more fitted him to compile a

lexicon to be used by a whale author like me.

One often hears of writers that rise and swell with their subject
though it may seem but an ordinary one. Howthenwith mewriting
of this Leviathan? Unconsciously my chirography expands into placard
capitals. Give me a condor's quill! Give me Vesuvius' crater for an
inkstand! Friendshold my arms! For in the mere act of penning my
thoughts of this Leviathanthey weary meand make me faint with
their outreaching comprehensiveness of sweepas if to include the
whole circle of the sciencesand all the generations of whalesand
menand mastodonspastpresentand to comewith all the
revolving panoramas of empire on earthand throughout the whole
universenot excluding its suburbs. Suchand so magnifyingis the
virtue of a large and liberal theme! We expand to its bulk. To
produce a mighty bookyou must choose a mighty theme. No great and
enduring volume can ever be written on the fleathough many there be
who have tried it.

Ere entering upon the subject of Fossil WhalesI present my
credentials as a geologistby stating that in my miscellaneous time
I have been a stone-masonand also a great digger of ditches
canals and wellswine-vaultscellarsand cisterns of all sorts.
Likewiseby way of preliminaryI desire to remind the readerthat
while in the earlier geological strata there are found the fossils of
monsters now almost completely extinct; the subsequent relics
discovered in what are called the Tertiary formations seem the
connectingor at any rate intercepted linksbetween the
antichronical creaturesand those whose remote posterity are said to
have entered the Ark; all the Fossil Whales hitherto discovered
belong to the Tertiary periodwhich is the last preceding the
superficial formations. And though none of them precisely answer to
any known species of the present timethey are yet sufficiently akin
to them in general respectsto justify their taking rank as
Cetacean fossils.

Detached broken fossils of pre-adamite whalesfragments of their
bones and skeletonshave within thirty years pastat various
intervalsbeen found at the base of the Alpsin Lombardyin
Francein Englandin Scotlandand in the States of Louisiana
Mississippiand Alabama. Among the more curious of such remains is
part of a skullwhich in the year 1779 was disinterred in the Rue
Dauphine in Parisa short street opening almost directly upon the
palace of the Tuileries; and bones disinterred in excavating the
great docks of Antwerpin Napoleon's time. Cuvier pronounced these
fragments to have belonged to some utterly unknown Leviathanic

But by far the most wonderful of all Cetacean relics was the almost
complete vast skeleton of an extinct monsterfound in the year 1842
on the plantation of Judge Creaghin Alabama. The awe-stricken
credulous slaves in the vicinity took it for the bones of one of the
fallen angels. The Alabama doctors declared it a huge reptileand
bestowed upon it the name of Basilosaurus. But some specimen bones
of it being taken across the sea to Owenthe English Anatomistit
turned out that this alleged reptile was a whalethough of a
departed species. A significant illustration of the factagain and
again repeated in this bookthat the skeleton of the whale furnishes
but little clue to the shape of his fully invested body. So Owen
rechristened the monster Zeuglodon; and in his paper read before the
London Geological Societypronounced itin substanceone of the
most extraordinary creatures which the mutations of the globe have
blotted out of existence.

When I stand among these mighty Leviathan skeletonsskullstusks

jawsribsand vertebraeall characterized by partial resemblances
to the existing breeds of sea-monsters; but at the same time bearing
on the other hand similar affinities to the annihilated antichronical
Leviathanstheir incalculable seniors; I amby a floodborne back
to that wondrous periodere time itself can be said to have begun;
for time began with man. Here Saturn's grey chaos rolls over meand
I obtain dimshuddering glimpses into those Polar eternities; when
wedged bastions of ice pressed hard upon what are now the Tropics;
and in all the 25000 miles of this world's circumferencenot an
inhabitable hand's breadth of land was visible. Then the whole world
was the whale's; andking of creationhe left his wake along the
present lines of the Andes and the Himmalehs. Who can show a
pedigree like Leviathan? Ahab's harpoon had shed older blood than
the Pharaoh's. Methuselah seems a school-boy. I look round to shake
hands with Shem. I am horror-struck at this antemosaicunsourced
existence of the unspeakable terrors of the whalewhichhaving been
before all timemust needs exist after all humane ages are over.

But not alone has this Leviathan left his pre-adamite traces in the
stereotype plates of natureand in limestone and marl bequeathed his
ancient bust; but upon Egyptian tabletswhose antiquity seems to
claim for them an almost fossiliferous characterwe find the
unmistakable print of his fin. In an apartment of the great temple
of Denderahsome fifty years agothere was discovered upon the
granite ceiling a sculptured and painted planisphereabounding in
centaursgriffinsand dolphinssimilar to the grotesque figures
on the celestial globe of the moderns. Gliding among themold
Leviathan swam as of yore; was there swimming in that planisphere
centuries before Solomon was cradled.

Nor must there be omitted another strange attestation of the
antiquity of the whalein his own osseous post-diluvian realityas
set down by the venerable John Leothe old Barbary traveller.

Not far from the Sea-side, they have a Temple, the Rafters and Beams
of which are made of Whale-Bones; for Whales of a monstrous size are
oftentimes cast up dead upon that shore. The Common People imagine,
that by a secret Power bestowed by God upon the temple, no Whale can
pass it without immediate death. But the truth of the Matter is,
that on either side of the Temple, there are Rocks that shoot two
Miles into the Sea, and wound the Whales when they light upon 'em.
They keep a Whale's Rib of an incredible length for a Miracle, which
lying upon the Ground with its convex part uppermost, makes an Arch,
the Head of which cannot be reached by a Man upon a Camel's Back.
This Rib (says John Leo) is said to have layn there a hundred Years
before I saw it. Their Historians affirm, that a Prophet who
prophesy'd of Mahomet, came from this Temple, and some do not stand
to assert, that the Prophet Jonas was cast forth by the Whale at the
Base of the Temple.

In this Afric Temple of the Whale I leave youreaderand if you be
a Nantucketerand a whalemanyou will silently worship there.


Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish?--Will He Perish?

Inasmuchthenas this Leviathan comes floundering down upon us from
the head-waters of the Eternitiesit may be fitly inquiredwhether
in the long course of his generationshe has not degenerated from
the original bulk of his sires.

But upon investigation we findthat not only are the whales of the
present day superior in magnitude to those whose fossil remains are
found in the Tertiary system (embracing a distinct geological period
prior to man)but of the whales found in that Tertiary systemthose
belonging to its latter formations exceed in size those of its
earlier ones.

Of all the pre-adamite whales yet exhumedby far the largest is the
Alabama one mentioned in the last chapterand that was less than
seventy feet in length in the skeleton. Whereaswe have already
seenthat the tape-measure gives seventy-two feet for the skeleton
of a large sized modern whale. And I have heardon whalemen's
authoritythat Sperm Whales have been captured near a hundred feet
long at the time of capture.

But may it not bethat while the whales of the present hour are an
advance in magnitude upon those of all previous geological periods;
may it not bethat since Adam's time they have degenerated?

Assuredlywe must conclude soif we are to credit the accounts of
such gentlemen as Plinyand the ancient naturalists generally. For
Pliny tells us of Whales that embraced acres of living bulkand
Aldrovandus of others which measured eight hundred feet in
length--Rope Walks and Thames Tunnels of Whales! And even in the
days of Banks and SolanderCooke's naturalistswe find a Danish
member of the Academy of Sciences setting down certain Iceland Whales
(reydan-siskuror Wrinkled Bellies) at one hundred and twenty yards;
that isthree hundred and sixty feet. And Lacepedethe French
naturalistin his elaborate history of whalesin the very beginning
of his work (page 3)sets down the Right Whale at one hundred
metresthree hundred and twenty-eight feet. And this work was
published so late as A.D. 1825.

But will any whaleman believe these stories? No. The whale of
to-day is as big as his ancestors in Pliny's time. And if ever I go
where Pliny isIa whaleman (more than he was)will make bold to
tell him so. Because I cannot understand how it isthat while the
Egyptian mummies that were buried thousands of years before even
Pliny was borndo not measure so much in their coffins as a modern
Kentuckian in his socks; and while the cattle and other animals
sculptured on the oldest Egyptian and Nineveh tabletsby the
relative proportions in which they are drawnjust as plainly prove
that the high-bredstall-fedprize cattle of Smithfieldnot only
equalbut far exceed in magnitude the fattest of Pharaoh's fat kine;
in the face of all thisI will not admit that of all animals the
whale alone should have degenerated.

But still another inquiry remains; one often agitated by the more
recondite Nantucketers. Whether owing to the almost omniscient
look-outs at the mast-heads of the whaleshipsnow penetrating even
through Behring's straitsand into the remotest secret drawers and
lockers of the world; and the thousand harpoons and lances darted
along all continental coasts; the moot point iswhether Leviathan
can long endure so wide a chaseand so remorseless a havoc; whether
he must not at last be exterminated from the watersand the last
whalelike the last mansmoke his last pipeand then himself
evaporate in the final puff.

Comparing the humped herds of whales with the humped herds of
buffalowhichnot forty years agooverspread by tens of thousands
the prairies of Illinois and Missouriand shook their iron manes and
scowled with their thunder-clotted brows upon the sites of populous
river-capitalswhere now the polite broker sells you land at a

dollar an inch; in such a comparison an irresistible argument would
seem furnishedto show that the hunted whale cannot now escape
speedy extinction.

But you must look at this matter in every light. Though so short a
period ago--not a good lifetime--the census of the buffalo in
Illinois exceeded the census of men now in Londonand though at the
present day not one horn or hoof of them remains in all that region;
and though the cause of this wondrous extermination was the spear of
man; yet the far different nature of the whale-hunt peremptorily
forbids so inglorious an end to the Leviathan. Forty men in one ship
hunting the Sperm Whales for forty-eight months think they have done
extremely welland thank Godif at last they carry home the oil of
forty fish. Whereasin the days of the old Canadian and Indian
hunters and trappers of the Westwhen the far west (in whose sunset
suns still rise) was a wilderness and a virginthe same number of
moccasined menfor the same number of monthsmounted on horse
instead of sailing in shipswould have slain not fortybut forty
thousand and more buffaloes; a fact thatif need werecould be
statistically stated.

Norconsidered arightdoes it seem any argument in favour of the
gradual extinction of the Sperm Whalefor examplethat in former
years (the latter part of the last centurysay) these Leviathansin
small podswere encountered much oftener than at presentandin
consequencethe voyages were not so prolongedand were also much
more remunerative. Becauseas has been elsewhere noticedthose
whalesinfluenced by some views to safetynow swim the seas in
immense caravansso that to a large degree the scattered solitaries
yokesand podsand schools of other days are now aggregated into
vast but widely separatedunfrequent armies. That is all. And
equally fallacious seems the conceitthat because the so-called
whale-bone whales no longer haunt many grounds in former years
abounding with themhence that species also is declining. For they
are only bei