ist baden in der badewanne bei gewitter gefährlich
-chapter 51.the spirit-spout. days, weeks passed, and under easy sail,the ivory pequod had slowly swept across four several cruising-grounds; that off theazores; off the cape de verdes; on the plate (so called), being off the mouth of the rio de la plata; and the carrol ground,an unstaked, watery locality, southerly from st. helena. it was while gliding through these latterwaters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrollsof silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery
silence, not a solitude; on such a silentnight a silvery jet was seen far in advance of the white bubbles at the bow. lit up by the moon, it looked celestial;seemed some plumed and glittering god uprising from the sea.fedallah first descried this jet. for of these moonlight nights, it was hiswont to mount to the main-mast head, and stand a look-out there, with the sameprecision as if it had been day. and yet, though herds of whales were seenby night, not one whaleman in a hundred would venture a lowering for them. you may think with what emotions, then, theseamen beheld this old oriental perched
aloft at such unusual hours; his turban andthe moon, companions in one sky. but when, after spending his uniforminterval there for several successive nights without uttering a single sound;when, after all this silence, his unearthly voice was heard announcing that silvery, moon-lit jet, every reclining marinerstarted to his feet as if some winged spirit had lighted in the rigging, andhailed the mortal crew. "there she blows!" had the trump of judgment blown, they couldnot have quivered more; yet still they felt no terror; rather pleasure.
for though it was a most unwonted hour, yetso impressive was the cry, and so deliriously exciting, that almost everysoul on board instinctively desired a lowering. walking the deck with quick, side-lungingstrides, ahab commanded the t'gallant sails and royals to be set, and every stunsailspread. the best man in the ship must take thehelm. then, with every mast-head manned, thepiled-up craft rolled down before the wind. the strange, upheaving, lifting tendency ofthe taffrail breeze filling the hollows of so many sails, made the buoyant, hoveringdeck to feel like air beneath the feet;
while still she rushed along, as if two antagonistic influences were struggling inher--one to mount direct to heaven, the other to drive yawingly to some horizontalgoal. and had you watched ahab's face that night,you would have thought that in him also two different things were warring. while his one live leg made lively echoesalong the deck, every stroke of his dead limb sounded like a coffin-tap.on life and death this old man walked. but though the ship so swiftly sped, andthough from every eye, like arrows, the eager glances shot, yet the silvery jet wasno more seen that night.
every sailor swore he saw it once, but nota second time. this midnight-spout had almost grown aforgotten thing, when, some days after, lo! at the same silent hour, it was againannounced: again it was descried by all; but upon making sail to overtake it, once more it disappeared as if it had neverbeen. and so it served us night after night, tillno one heeded it but to wonder at it. mysteriously jetted into the clearmoonlight, or starlight, as the case might be; disappearing again for one whole day,or two days, or three; and somehow seeming at every distinct repetition to be
advancing still further and further in ourvan, this solitary jet seemed for ever alluring us on. nor with the immemorial superstition oftheir race, and in accordance with the preternaturalness, as it seemed, which inmany things invested the pequod, were there wanting some of the seamen who swore that whenever and wherever descried; at howeverremote times, or in however far apart latitudes and longitudes, that unnearablespout was cast by one self-same whale; and that whale, moby dick. for a time, there reigned, too, a sense ofpeculiar dread at this flitting apparition,
as if it were treacherously beckoning us onand on, in order that the monster might turn round upon us, and rend us at last inthe remotest and most savage seas. these temporary apprehensions, so vague butso awful, derived a wondrous potency from the contrasting serenity of the weather, inwhich, beneath all its blue blandness, some thought there lurked a devilish charm, as for days and days we voyaged along, throughseas so wearily, lonesomely mild, that all space, in repugnance to our vengefulerrand, seemed vacating itself of life before our urn-like prow. but, at last, when turning to the eastward,the cape winds began howling around us, and
we rose and fell upon the long, troubledseas that are there; when the ivory-tusked pequod sharply bowed to the blast, and gored the dark waves in her madness, till,like showers of silver chips, the foam- flakes flew over her bulwarks; then allthis desolate vacuity of life went away, but gave place to sights more dismal thanbefore. close to our bows, strange forms in thewater darted hither and thither before us; while thick in our rear flew theinscrutable sea-ravens. and every morning, perched on our stays,rows of these birds were seen; and spite of our hootings, for a long time obstinatelyclung to the hemp, as though they deemed
our ship some drifting, uninhabited craft; a thing appointed to desolation, andtherefore fit roosting-place for their homeless selves. and heaved and heaved, still unrestinglyheaved the black sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience; and the great mundanesoul were in anguish and remorse for the long sin and suffering it had bred. cape of good hope, do they call ye? rather cape tormentoto, as called of yore;for long allured by the perfidious silences that before had attended us, we foundourselves launched into this tormented sea,
where guilty beings transformed into those fowls and these fish, seemed condemned toswim on everlastingly without any haven in store, or beat that black air without anyhorizon. but calm, snow-white, and unvarying; stilldirecting its fountain of feathers to the sky; still beckoning us on from before, thesolitary jet would at times be descried. during all this blackness of the elements,ahab, though assuming for the time the almost continual command of the drenchedand dangerous deck, manifested the gloomiest reserve; and more seldom thanever addressed his mates. in tempestuous times like these, aftereverything above and aloft has been
secured, nothing more can be done butpassively to await the issue of the gale. then captain and crew become practicalfatalists. so, with his ivory leg inserted into itsaccustomed hole, and with one hand firmly grasping a shroud, ahab for hours and hourswould stand gazing dead to windward, while an occasional squall of sleet or snow would all but congeal his very eyelashestogether. meantime, the crew driven from the forwardpart of the ship by the perilous seas that burstingly broke over its bows, stood in aline along the bulwarks in the waist; and the better to guard against the leaping
waves, each man had slipped himself into asort of bowline secured to the rail, in which he swung as in a loosened belt. few or no words were spoken; and the silentship, as if manned by painted sailors in wax, day after day tore on through all theswift madness and gladness of the demoniac waves. by night the same muteness of humanitybefore the shrieks of the ocean prevailed; still in silence the men swung in thebowlines; still wordless ahab stood up to the blast. even when wearied nature seemed demandingrepose he would not seek that repose in his
hammock. never could starbuck forget the old man'saspect, when one night going down into the cabin to mark how the barometer stood, hesaw him with closed eyes sitting straight in his floor-screwed chair; the rain and half-melted sleet of the storm from whichhe had some time before emerged, still slowly dripping from the unremoved hat andcoat. on the table beside him lay unrolled one ofthose charts of tides and currents which have previously been spoken of.his lantern swung from his tightly clenched hand.
though the body was erect, the head wasthrown back so that the closed eyes were pointed towards the needle of the tell-talethat swung from a beam in the ceiling.* *the cabin-compass is called the tell-tale,because without going to the compass at the helm, the captain, while below, can informhimself of the course of the ship. terrible old man! thought starbuck with ashudder, sleeping in this gale, still thou steadfastly eyest thy purpose. chapter 52.the albatross. south-eastward from the cape, off thedistant crozetts, a good cruising ground for right whalemen, a sail loomed ahead,the goney (albatross) by name.
as she slowly drew nigh, from my loftyperch at the fore-mast-head, i had a good view of that sight so remarkable to a tyroin the far ocean fisheries--a whaler at sea, and long absent from home. as if the waves had been fullers, thiscraft was bleached like the skeleton of a stranded walrus. all down her sides, this spectralappearance was traced with long channels of reddened rust, while all her spars and herrigging were like the thick branches of trees furred over with hoar-frost. only her lower sails were set.a wild sight it was to see her long-bearded
look-outs at those three mast-heads. they seemed clad in the skins of beasts, sotorn and bepatched the raiment that had survived nearly four years of cruising. standing in iron hoops nailed to the mast,they swayed and swung over a fathomless sea; and though, when the ship slowlyglided close under our stern, we 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; yet, those forlorn-looking fishermen,mildly eyeing us as they passed, said not one word to our own look-outs, while the
quarter-deck hail was being heard frombelow. "ship ahoy!have ye seen the white whale?" but as the strange captain, leaning overthe pallid bulwarks, was in the act of putting his trumpet to his mouth, itsomehow fell from his hand into the sea; and the wind now rising amain, he in vainstrove to make himself heard without it. meantime his ship was still increasing thedistance between. while in various silent ways the seamen ofthe pequod were evincing their observance of this ominous incident at the first meremention of the white whale's name to another ship, ahab for a moment paused; it
almost seemed as though he would havelowered a boat to board the stranger, had not the threatening wind forbade. but taking advantage of his windwardposition, he again seized his trumpet, and knowing by her aspect that the strangervessel was a nantucketer and shortly bound home, he loudly hailed--"ahoy there! this is the pequod, bound round the world!tell them to address all future letters to the pacific ocean! and this time threeyears, if i am not at home, tell them to address them to--" at that moment the two wakes were fairlycrossed, and instantly, then, in accordance
with their singular ways, shoals of smallharmless fish, that for some days before had been placidly swimming by our side, darted away with what seemed shudderingfins, and ranged themselves fore and aft with the stranger's flanks. though in the course of his continualvoyagings ahab must often before have noticed a similar sight, yet, to anymonomaniac man, the veriest trifles capriciously carry meanings. "swim away from me, do ye?" murmured ahab,gazing over into the water. there seemed but little in the words, butthe tone conveyed more of deep helpless
sadness than the insane old man had everbefore evinced. but turning to the steersman, who thus farhad been holding the ship in the wind to diminish her headway, he cried out in hisold 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 thatcircumnavigation conduct? only through numberless perils to the verypoint whence we started, where those that we left behind secure, were all the timebefore us. were this world an endless plain, and bysailing eastward we could for ever reach
new distances, and discover sights moresweet and strange than any cyclades or islands of king solomon, then there werepromise in the voyage. but in pursuit of those far mysteries wedream of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time or other,swims before all human hearts; while chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on in barren mazes or midwayleave us whelmed. chapter 53.the gam. the ostensible reason why ahab did not goon board of the whaler we had spoken was this: the wind and sea betokened storms.
but even had this not been the case, hewould not after all, perhaps, have boarded her--judging by his subsequent conduct onsimilar occasions--if so it had been that, by the process of hailing, he had obtaineda negative answer to the question he put. for, as it eventually turned out, he carednot to consort, even for five minutes, with any stranger captain, except he couldcontribute some of that information he so absorbingly sought. but all this might remain inadequatelyestimated, were not something said here of the peculiar usages of whaling-vessels whenmeeting each other in foreign seas, and especially on a common cruising-ground.
if two strangers crossing the pine barrensin new york state, or the equally desolate salisbury plain in england; if casuallyencountering each other in such inhospitable wilds, these twain, for the life of them, cannot well avoid a mutualsalutation; and stopping for a moment to interchange the news; and, perhaps, sittingdown for a while and resting in concert: then, how much more natural that upon the illimitable pine barrens and salisburyplains of the sea, two whaling vessels descrying each other at the ends of theearth--off lone fanning's island, or the far away king's mills; how much more
natural, i say, that under suchcircumstances these ships should not only interchange hails, but come into stillcloser, more friendly and sociable contact. and especially would this seem to be amatter of course, in the case of vessels owned in one seaport, and whose captains,officers, and not a few of the men are personally known to each other; and consequently, have all sorts of deardomestic things to talk about. for the long absent ship, the outward-bounder, perhaps, has letters on board; at any rate, she will be sure to let her havesome papers of a date a year or two later than the last one on her blurred and thumb-worn files.
and in return for that courtesy, theoutward-bound ship would receive the latest whaling intelligence from the cruising-ground to which she may be destined, a thing of the utmost importance to her. and in degree, all this will hold trueconcerning whaling vessels crossing each other's track on the cruising-grounditself, even though they are equally long absent from home. for one of them may have received atransfer of letters from some third, and now far remote vessel; and some of thoseletters may be for the people of the ship she now meets.
besides, they would exchange the whalingnews, and have an agreeable chat. for not only would they meet with all thesympathies of sailors, but likewise with all the peculiar congenialities arisingfrom a common pursuit and mutually shared privations and perils. nor would difference of country make anyvery essential difference; that is, so long as both parties speak one language, as isthe case with americans and english. though, to be sure, from the small numberof english whalers, such meetings do not very often occur, and when they do occurthere is too apt to be a sort of shyness between them; for your englishman is rather
reserved, and your yankee, he does notfancy that sort of thing in anybody but himself. besides, the english whalers sometimesaffect a kind of metropolitan superiority over the american whalers; regarding thelong, lean nantucketer, with his nondescript provincialisms, as a sort ofsea-peasant. but where this superiority in the englishwhalemen does really consist, it would be hard to say, seeing that the yankees in oneday, collectively, kill more whales than all the english, collectively, in tenyears. but this is a harmless little foible in theenglish whale-hunters, which the
nantucketer does not take much to heart;probably, because he knows that he has a few foibles himself. so, then, we see that of all shipsseparately sailing the sea, the whalers have most reason to be sociable--and theyare so. whereas, some merchant ships crossing eachother's wake in the mid-atlantic, will oftentimes pass on without so much as asingle word of recognition, mutually cutting each other on the high seas, like a brace of dandies in broadway; and all thetime indulging, perhaps, in finical criticism upon each other's rig.
as for men-of-war, when they chance to meetat sea, they first go through such a string of silly bowings and scrapings, such aducking of ensigns, that there does not seem to be much right-down hearty good-willand brotherly love about it at all. as touching slave-ships meeting, why, theyare in such a prodigious hurry, they run away from each other as soon as possible. and as for pirates, when they chance tocross each other's cross-bones, the first hail is--"how many skulls?"--the same waythat whalers hail--"how many barrels?" and that question once answered, piratesstraightway steer apart, for they are infernal villains on both sides, and don'tlike to see overmuch of each other's
villanous likenesses. but look at the godly, honest,unostentatious, hospitable, sociable, free- and-easy whaler! what does the whaler do when she meetsanother whaler in any sort of decent weather? she has a "gam," a thing so utterly unknownto all other ships that they never heard of the name even; and if by chance they shouldhear of it, they only grin at it, and repeat gamesome stuff about "spouters" and "blubber-boilers," and such like prettyexclamations.
why it is that all merchant-seamen, andalso all pirates and man-of-war's men, and slave-ship sailors, cherish such a scornfulfeeling towards whale-ships; this is a question it would be hard to answer. because, in the case of pirates, say, ishould 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 thatodd fashion, he has no proper foundation for his superior altitude. hence, i conclude, that in boasting himselfto be high lifted above a whaleman, in that
assertion the pirate has no solid basis tostand on. but what is a gam? you might wear out yourindex-finger running up and down the columns of dictionaries, and never find theword. dr. johnson never attained to thaterudition; noah webster's ark does not hold it. nevertheless, this same expressive word hasnow for many years been in constant use among some fifteen thousand true bornyankees. certainly, it needs a definition, andshould be incorporated into the lexicon. with that view, let me learnedly define it.gam.
noun--a social meeting of two (or more)whaleships, generally on a cruising-ground; when, after exchanging hails, they exchangevisits by boats' crews; the two captains remaining, for the time, on board of oneship, and the two chief mates on the other. there is another little item about gammingwhich must not be forgotten here. all professions have their own littlepeculiarities 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 ona comfortable, sometimes cushioned seat there, and often steers himself with a
pretty little milliner's tiller decoratedwith gay cords and ribbons. but the whale-boat has no seat astern, nosofa of that sort whatever, and no tiller at all. high times indeed, if whaling captains werewheeled about the water on castors like gouty old aldermen in patent chairs. and as for a tiller, the whale-boat neveradmits of any such effeminacy; and therefore as in gamming a complete boat'screw must leave the ship, and hence as the boat steerer or harpooneer is of the number, that subordinate is the steersmanupon the occasion, and the captain, having
no place to sit in, is pulled off to hisvisit all standing like a pine tree. and often you will notice that beingconscious of the eyes of the whole visible world resting on him from the sides of thetwo ships, this standing captain is all alive to the importance of sustaining hisdignity by maintaining his legs. nor is this any very easy matter; for inhis rear is the immense projecting steering oar hitting him now and then in the smallof his back, the after-oar reciprocating by rapping his knees in front. he is thus completely wedged before andbehind, and can only expand himself sideways by settling down on his stretchedlegs; but a sudden, violent pitch of the
boat will often go far to topple him, because length of foundation is nothingwithout corresponding breadth. merely make a spread angle of two poles,and you cannot stand them up. then, again, it would never do in plainsight of the world's riveted eyes, it would never do, i say, for this straddlingcaptain to be seen steadying himself the slightest particle by catching hold of anything with his hands; indeed, as tokenof his entire, buoyant self-command, he generally carries his hands in histrowsers' pockets; but perhaps being generally very large, heavy hands, hecarries them there for ballast.
nevertheless there have occurred instances,well authenticated ones too, where the captain has been known for an uncommonlycritical moment or two, in a sudden squall say--to seize hold of the nearest oarsman'shair, and hold on there like grim death. > -chapter 54.the town-ho's story. (as told at the golden inn) the cape of good hope, and all the wateryregion 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 thegoney 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 usstrong news of moby dick. to some the general interest in the whitewhale was now wildly heightened by a circumstance of the town-ho's story, whichseemed obscurely to involve with the whale a certain wondrous, inverted visitation of one of those so called judgments of godwhich at times are said to overtake some men.
this latter circumstance, with its ownparticular accompaniments, forming what may be called the secret part of the tragedyabout to be narrated, never reached the ears of captain ahab or his mates. for that secret part of the story wasunknown to the captain of the town-ho it was the private property of threeconfederate white seamen of that ship, one of whom, it seems, communicated it totashtego with romish injunctions of secrecy, but the following night tashtego rambled in his sleep, and revealed so muchof it in that way, that when he was wakened he could not well withhold the rest.
nevertheless, so potent an influence didthis thing have on those seamen in the pequod who came to the full knowledge ofit, and by such a strange delicacy, to call it so, were they governed in this matter, that they kept the secret among themselvesso that it never transpired abaft the pequod's main-mast. interweaving in its proper place thisdarker thread with the story as publicly narrated on the ship, the whole of thisstrange affair i now proceed to put on lasting record. *the ancient whale-cry upon first sightinga whale from the mast-head, still used by
whalemen in hunting the famous gallipagosterrapin. for my humor's sake, i shall preserve thestyle 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 interludingquestions they occasionally put, and which are duly answered at the time. "some two years prior to my first learningthe events which i am about rehearsing to you, gentlemen, the town-ho, sperm whalerof nantucket, was cruising in your pacific
here, not very many days' sail eastwardfrom the eaves of this good golden inn. she was somewhere to the northward of theline. one morning upon handling the pumps,according to daily usage, it was observed that she made more water in her hold thancommon. they supposed a sword-fish had stabbed her,gentlemen. but the captain, having some unusual reasonfor believing that rare good luck awaited him in those latitudes; and therefore beingvery averse to quit them, and the leak not being then considered at all dangerous, though, indeed, they could not find itafter searching the hold as low down as was
possible in rather heavy weather, the shipstill continued her cruisings, the mariners working at the pumps at wide and easy intervals; but no good luck came; more dayswent by, and not only was the leak yet undiscovered, but it sensibly increased. so much so, that now taking some alarm, thecaptain, making all sail, stood away for the nearest harbor among the islands, thereto 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 wouldfounder by the way, because his pumps were of the best, and being periodically
relieved at them, those six-and-thirty menof his could easily keep the ship free; never mind if the leak should double onher. in truth, well nigh the whole of thispassage being attended by very prosperous breezes, the town-ho had all but certainlyarrived in perfect safety at her port without the occurrence of the least fatality, had it not been for the brutaloverbearing of radney, the mate, a vineyarder, and the bitterly provokedvengeance of steelkilt, a lakeman and desperado from buffalo. "'lakeman!--buffalo!pray, what is a lakeman, and where is
buffalo?' said don sebastian, rising in hisswinging 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 andthree-masted ships, well-nigh as large and stout as any that ever sailed out of yourold callao to far manilla; this lakeman, in the land-locked heart of our america, had yet been nurtured by all those agrarianfreebooting impressions popularly connected with the open ocean. for in their interflowing aggregate, thosegrand fresh-water seas of ours,--erie, and
ontario, and huron, and superior, andmichigan,--possess an ocean-like expansiveness, with many of the ocean's noblest traits; with many of its rimmedvarieties of races and of climes. they contain round archipelagoes ofromantic isles, even as the polynesian waters do; in large part, are shored by twogreat contrasting nations, as the atlantic is; they furnish long maritime approaches to our numerous territorial colonies fromthe east, dotted all round their banks; here and there are frowned upon bybatteries, and by the goat-like craggy guns of lofty mackinaw; they have heard the
fleet thunderings of naval victories; atintervals, they yield their beaches to wild barbarians, whose red painted faces flashfrom out their peltry wigwams; for leagues and leagues are flanked by ancient and unentered forests, where the gaunt pinesstand like serried lines of kings in gothic genealogies; those same woods harboringwild afric beasts of prey, and silken creatures whose exported furs give robes to tartar emperors; they mirror the pavedcapitals of buffalo and cleveland, as well as winnebago villages; they float alike thefull-rigged merchant ship, the armed cruiser of the state, the steamer, and the
beech canoe; they are swept by borean anddismasting blasts as direful as any that lash the salted wave; they know whatshipwrecks are, for out of sight of land, however inland, they have drowned full many a midnight ship with all its shriekingcrew. thus, gentlemen, though an inlander,steelkilt was wild-ocean born, and wild- ocean nurtured; as much of an audaciousmariner as any. and for radney, though in his infancy hemay have laid him down on the lone nantucket beach, to nurse at his maternalsea; though in after life he had long followed our austere atlantic and your
contemplative pacific; yet was he quite asvengeful and full of social quarrel as the backwoods seaman, fresh from the latitudesof buck-horn handled bowie-knives. yet was this nantucketer a man with somegood-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'sright; 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 thefurthest after pointing her prow for her island haven, that the town-ho's leakseemed again increasing, but only so as to require an hour or more at the pumps everyday. you must know that in a settled andcivilized ocean like our atlantic, for example, some skippers think little ofpumping their whole way across it; though of a still, sleepy night, should the officer of the deck happen to forget hisduty in that respect, the probability would be that he and his shipmates would neveragain remember it, on account of all hands gently subsiding to the bottom.
nor in the solitary and savage seas farfrom you to the westward, gentlemen, is it altogether unusual for ships to keepclanging at their pump-handles in full chorus even for a voyage of considerable length; that is, if it lie along atolerably accessible coast, or if any other reasonable retreat is afforded them. it is only when a leaky vessel is in somevery out of the way part of those waters, some really landless latitude, that hercaptain 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 concernmanifested by several of her company;
especially by radney the mate. he commanded the upper sails to be wellhoisted, sheeted home anew, and every way expanded to the breeze. now this radney, i suppose, was as littleof a coward, and as little inclined to any sort of nervous apprehensiveness touchinghis own person as any fearless, unthinking creature on land or on sea that you canconveniently imagine, gentlemen. therefore when he betrayed this solicitudeabout the safety of the ship, some of the seamen declared that it was only on accountof his being a part owner in her. so when they were working that evening atthe pumps, there was on this head no small
gamesomeness slily going on among them, asthey 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 steadyspouts at the lee scupper-holes. "now, as you well know, it is not seldomthe case in this conventional world of ours--watery or otherwise; that when aperson placed in command over his fellow- men finds one of them to be very significantly his superior in general prideof manhood, straightway against that man he conceives an unconquerable dislike andbitterness; and if he have a chance he will
pull down and pulverize that subaltern's tower, and make a little heap of dust ofit. be this conceit of mine as it may,gentlemen, at all events steelkilt was a tall and noble animal with a head like aroman, and a flowing golden beard like the tasseled housings of your last viceroy's snorting charger; and a brain, and a heart,and a soul in him, gentlemen, which had made steelkilt charlemagne, had he beenborn son to charlemagne's father. but radney, the mate, was ugly as a mule;yet as hardy, as stubborn, as malicious. he did not love steelkilt, and steelkiltknew it.
"espying the mate drawing near as he wastoiling at the pump with the rest, the lakeman affected not to notice him, butunawed, went on with his gay banterings. "'aye, aye, my merry lads, it's a livelyleak this; hold a cannikin, one of ye, and let's have a taste.by the lord, it's worth bottling! i tell ye what, men, old rad's investmentmust go for it! he had best cut away his part of the hull and tow it home. the fact is, boys, that sword-fish onlybegan the job; he's come back again with a gang of ship-carpenters, saw-fish, andfile-fish, and what not; and the whole posse of 'em are now hard at work cutting
and slashing at the bottom; makingimprovements, i suppose. if old rad were here now, i'd tell him tojump overboard and scatter 'em. they're playing the devil with his estate,i can tell him. but he's a simple old soul,--rad, and abeauty too. boys, they say the rest of his property isinvested in looking-glasses. i wonder if he'd give a poor devil like methe model of his nose.' "'damn your eyes! what's that pump stoppingfor?' roared radney, pretending not to have heard the sailors' talk.'thunder away at it!' "'aye, aye, sir,' said steelkilt, merry asa cricket.
'lively, boys, lively, now!' and with that the pump clanged like fiftyfire-engines; the men tossed their hats off to it, and ere long that peculiar gaspingof the lungs was heard which denotes the fullest tension of life's utmost energies. "quitting the pump at last, with the restof his band, the lakeman went forward all panting, and sat himself down on thewindlass; his face fiery red, his eyes bloodshot, and wiping the profuse sweatfrom his brow. now what cozening fiend it was, gentlemen,that possessed radney to meddle with such a man in that corporeally exasperated state,i know not; but so it happened.
intolerably striding along the deck, themate commanded him to get a broom and sweep down the planks, and also a shovel, andremove some offensive matters consequent upon allowing a pig to run at large. "now, gentlemen, sweeping a ship's deck atsea is a piece of household work which in all times but raging gales is regularlyattended to every evening; it has been known to be done in the case of shipsactually foundering at the time. such, gentlemen, is the inflexibility ofsea-usages and the instinctive love of neatness in seamen; some of whom would notwillingly drown without first washing their faces.
but in all vessels this broom business isthe prescriptive province of the boys, if boys there be aboard. besides, it was the stronger men in thetown-ho that had been divided into gangs, taking turns at the pumps; and being themost athletic seaman of them all, steelkilt had been regularly assigned captain of one of the gangs; consequently he should havebeen freed from any trivial business not connected with truly nautical duties, suchbeing the case with his comrades. i mention all these particulars so that youmay understand exactly how this affair stood between the two men.
"but there was more than this: the orderabout the shovel was almost as plainly meant to sting and insult steelkilt, asthough radney had spat in his face. any man who has gone sailor in a whale-shipwill understand this; and all this and doubtless much more, the lakeman fullycomprehended when the mate uttered his command. but as he sat still for a moment, and as hesteadfastly looked into the mate's malignant eye and perceived the stacks ofpowder-casks heaped up in him and the slow- match silently burning along towards them; as he instinctively saw all this, thatstrange forbearance and unwillingness to
stir up the deeper passionateness in anyalready ireful being--a repugnance most felt, when felt at all, by really valiant men even when aggrieved--this namelessphantom feeling, gentlemen, stole over steelkilt. "therefore, in his ordinary tone, only alittle broken by the bodily exhaustion he was temporarily in, he answered him sayingthat sweeping the deck was not his business, and he would not do it. and then, without at all alluding to theshovel, he pointed to three lads as the customary sweepers; who, not being billetedat the pumps, had done little or nothing
all day. to this, radney replied with an oath, in amost 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 casknear by. "heated and irritated as he was by hisspasmodic toil at the pumps, for all his first nameless feeling of forbearance thesweating steelkilt could but ill brook this bearing in the mate; but somehow still smothering the conflagration within him,without speaking he remained doggedly
rooted to his seat, till at last theincensed radney shook the hammer within a few inches of his face, furiouslycommanding him to do his bidding. "steelkilt rose, and slowly retreatinground the windlass, steadily followed by the mate with his menacing hammer,deliberately repeated his intention not to obey. seeing, however, that his forbearance hadnot the slightest effect, by an awful and unspeakable intimation with his twistedhand he warned off the foolish and infatuated man; but it was to no purpose. and in this way the two went once slowlyround the windlass; when, resolved at last
no longer to retreat, bethinking him thathe had now forborne as much as comported with his humor, the lakeman paused on thehatches and thus spoke to the officer: "'mr. radney, i will not obey you.take that hammer away, or look to yourself.' but the predestinated mate coming stillcloser to him, where the lakeman stood fixed, now shook the heavy hammer within aninch of his teeth; meanwhile repeating a string of insufferable maledictions. retreating not the thousandth part of aninch; stabbing him in the eye with the unflinching poniard of his glance,steelkilt, clenching his right hand behind
him and creepingly drawing it back, told his persecutor that if the hammer butgrazed his cheek he (steelkilt) would murder him.but, gentlemen, the fool had been branded for the slaughter by the gods. immediately the hammer touched the cheek;the next instant the lower jaw of the mate was stove in his head; he fell on the hatchspouting blood like a whale. "ere the cry could go aft steelkilt wasshaking one of the backstays leading far aloft to where two of his comrades werestanding their mastheads. they were both canallers.
"'canallers!' cried don pedro.'we have seen many whale-ships in our harbours, but never heard of yourcanallers. pardon: who and what are they?' "'canallers, don, are the boatmen belongingto our grand erie canal. you must have heard of it.' "'nay, senor; hereabouts in this dull,warm, most lazy, and hereditary land, we know but little of your vigorous north.'"'aye? well then, don, refill my cup. your chicha's very fine; and ere proceedingfurther i will tell ye what our canallers
are; for such information may throw side-light upon my story.' "for three hundred and sixty miles,gentlemen, through the entire breadth of the state of new york; through numerouspopulous cities and most thriving villages; through long, dismal, uninhabited swamps, and affluent, cultivated fields, unrivalledfor fertility; by billiard-room and bar- room; through the holy-of-holies of greatforests; on roman arches over indian rivers; through sun and shade; by happy hearts or broken; through all the widecontrasting scenery of those noble mohawk counties; and especially, by rows of snow-white chapels, whose spires stand almost
like milestones, flows one continual stream of venetianly corrupt and often lawlesslife. there's your true ashantee, gentlemen;there howl your pagans; where you ever find them, next door to you; under the long-flung shadow, and the snug patronising lee of churches. for by some curious fatality, as it isoften noted of your metropolitan freebooters that they ever encamp aroundthe halls of justice, so sinners, gentlemen, most abound in holiestvicinities. "'is that a friar passing?' said don pedro,looking downwards into the crowded plazza,
with humorous concern. "'well for our northern friend, dameisabella's inquisition wanes in lima,' laughed don sebastian.'proceed, senor.' "'a moment! pardon!' cried another of the company. 'in the name of all us limeese, i butdesire to express to you, sir sailor, that we have by no means overlooked yourdelicacy in not substituting present lima for distant venice in your corruptcomparison. oh! do not bow and look surprised; you knowthe proverb all along this coast--"corrupt
as lima." it but bears out your saying, too; churchesmore plentiful than billiard-tables, and for ever open--and "corrupt as lima." so, too, venice; i have been there; theholy city of the blessed evangelist, st. mark!--st. dominic, purge it!your cup! thanks: here i refill; now, you pour outagain.' "freely depicted in his own vocation,gentlemen, the canaller would make a fine dramatic hero, so abundantly andpicturesquely wicked is he. like mark antony, for days and days alonghis green-turfed, flowery nile, he
indolently floats, openly toying with hisred-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 thevillages through which he floats; his swart visage and bold swagger are not unshunnedin cities. once a vagabond on his own canal, i havereceived good turns from one of these canallers; i thank him heartily; would fainbe not ungrateful; but it is often one of the prime redeeming qualities of your man
of violence, that at times he has as stiffan arm to back a poor stranger in a strait, as to plunder a wealthy one. in sum, gentlemen, what the wildness ofthis canal life is, is emphatically evinced by this; that our wild whale-fisherycontains so many of its most finished graduates, and that scarce any race of mankind, except sydney men, are so muchdistrusted by our whaling captains. nor does it at all diminish the curiousnessof this matter, that to many thousands of our rural boys and young men born along itsline, the probationary life of the grand canal furnishes the sole transition between
quietly reaping in a christian corn-field,and recklessly ploughing the waters of the most barbaric seas."'i see! i see!' impetuously exclaimed don pedro,spilling his chicha upon his silvery ruffles.'no need to travel! the world's one lima. i had thought, now, that at your temperatenorth 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 wassurrounded by the three junior mates and
the four harpooneers, who all crowded himto the deck. but sliding down the ropes like balefulcomets, the two canallers rushed into the uproar, and sought to drag their man out ofit towards the forecastle. others of the sailors joined with them inthis attempt, and a twisted turmoil ensued; while standing out of harm's way, thevaliant captain danced up and down with a whale-pike, calling upon his officers to manhandle that atrocious scoundrel, andsmoke him along to the quarter-deck. at intervals, he ran close up to therevolving 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 toomuch for them all; they succeeded in gaining the forecastle deck, where, hastilyslewing about three or four large casks in a line with the windlass, these sea- parisians entrenched themselves behind thebarricade. "'come out of that, ye pirates!' roared thecaptain, now menacing them with a pistol in each hand, just brought to him by thesteward. 'come out of that, ye cut-throats!' "steelkilt leaped on the barricade, andstriding up and down there, defied the
worst the pistols could do; but gave thecaptain to understand distinctly, that his (steelkilt's) death would be the signal for a murderous mutiny on the part of allhands. fearing in his heart lest this might provebut too true, the captain a little desisted, but still commanded theinsurgents instantly to return to their duty. "'will you promise not to touch us, if wedo?' demanded their ringleader. "'turn to! turn to!--i make no promise;--toyour duty! do you want to sink the ship, by knockingoff at a time like this?
turn to!' and he once more raised a pistol."'sink the ship?' cried steelkilt. 'aye, let her sink. not a man of us turns to, unless you swearnot to raise a rope-yarn against us. what say ye, men?' turning to his comrades.a fierce cheer was their response. "the lakeman now patrolled the barricade,all the while keeping his eye on the captain, and jerking out such sentences asthese:--'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 mebefore this; i told him not to prick the buffalo; i believe i have broken a fingerhere against his cursed jaw; ain't those
mincing knives down in the forecastle there, men? look to those handspikes, myhearties. captain, by god, look to yourself; say theword; don't be a fool; forget it all; we are ready to turn to; treat us decently,and we're your men; but we won't be flogged.' "'turn to!i make no promises, turn to, i say!' "'look ye, now,' cried the lakeman,flinging out his arm towards him, 'there are a few of us here (and i am one of them)who have shipped for the cruise, d'ye see; now as you well know, sir, we can claim our
discharge as soon as the anchor is down; sowe don't want a row; it's not our interest; we want to be peaceable; we are ready towork, but we won't be flogged.' "'turn to!' roared the captain. "steelkilt glanced round him a moment, andthen said:--'i tell you what it is now, captain, rather than kill ye, and be hungfor such a shabby rascal, we won't lift a hand against ye unless ye attack us; but till you say the word about not floggingus, we don't do a hand's turn.' "'down into the forecastle then, down withye, i'll keep ye there till ye're sick of down ye go.'"'shall we?' cried the ringleader to his
most of them were against it; but atlength, 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 levelwith the planks, the captain and his posse leaped the barricade, and rapidly drawingover the slide of the scuttle, planted their group of hands upon it, and loudly called for the steward to bring the heavybrass padlock belonging to the companionway. "then opening the slide a little, thecaptain whispered something down the crack,
closed it, and turned the key upon them--ten in number--leaving on deck some twenty or more, who thus far had remained neutral. "all night a wide-awake watch was kept byall the officers, forward and aft, especially about the forecastle scuttle andfore hatchway; at which last place it was feared the insurgents might emerge, afterbreaking 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 clinkingand clanking at intervals through the dreary night dismally resounded through theship. "at sunrise the captain went forward, andknocking on the deck, summoned the
prisoners to work; but with a yell theyrefused. water was then lowered down to them, and acouple of handfuls of biscuit were tossed after it; when again turning the key uponthem and pocketing it, the captain returned to the quarter-deck. twice every day for three days this wasrepeated; but on the fourth morning a confused wrangling, and then a scufflingwas heard, as the customary summons was delivered; and suddenly four men burst up from the forecastle, saying they were readyto turn to. the fetid closeness of the air, and afamishing diet, united perhaps to some
fears of ultimate retribution, hadconstrained them to surrender at discretion. emboldened by this, the captain reiteratedhis demand to the rest, but steelkilt shouted up to him a terrific hint to stophis babbling and betake himself where he belonged. on the fifth morning three others of themutineers bolted up into the air from the desperate arms below that sought torestrain them. only three were left. "'better turn to, now?' said the captainwith a heartless jeer.
"'shut us up again, will ye!' criedsteelkilt. "'oh certainly,' the captain, and the keyclicked. "it was at this point, gentlemen, thatenraged by the defection of seven of his former associates, and stung by the mockingvoice that had last hailed him, and maddened by his long entombment in a place as black as the bowels of despair; it wasthen that steelkilt proposed to the two canallers, thus far apparently of one mindwith him, to burst out of their hole at the next summoning of the garrison; and armed with their keen mincing knives (long,crescentic, heavy implements with a handle
at each end) run amuck from the bowsprit tothe taffrail; and if by any devilishness of desperation possible, seize the ship. for himself, he would do this, he said,whether they joined him or not. that was the last night he should spend inthat den. but the scheme met with no opposition onthe part of the other two; they swore they were ready for that, or for any other madthing, for anything in short but a surrender. and what was more, they each insisted uponbeing the first man on deck, when the time to make the rush should come.
but to this their leader as fiercelyobjected, reserving that priority for himself; particularly as his two comradeswould not yield, the one to the other, in the matter; and both of them could not be first, for the ladder would but admit oneman at a time. and here, gentlemen, the foul play of thesemiscreants must come out. "upon hearing the frantic project of theirleader, each in his own separate soul had suddenly lighted, it would seem, upon thesame piece of treachery, namely: to be foremost in breaking out, in order to be the first of the three, though the last ofthe ten, to surrender; and thereby secure
whatever small chance of pardon suchconduct might merit. but when steelkilt made known hisdetermination still to lead them to the last, they in some way, by some subtlechemistry of villany, mixed their before secret treacheries together; and when their leader fell into a doze, verbally openedtheir souls to each other in three sentences; and bound the sleeper withcords, and gagged him with cords; and shrieked out for the captain at midnight. "thinking murder at hand, and smelling inthe dark for the blood, he and all his armed mates and harpooneers rushed for theforecastle.
in a few minutes the scuttle was opened,and, bound hand and foot, the still struggling ringleader was shoved up intothe air by his perfidious allies, who at once claimed the honour of securing a manwho had been fully ripe for murder. but all these were collared, and draggedalong the deck like dead cattle; and, side by side, were seized up into the mizzenrigging, like three quarters of meat, and there they hung till morning. 'damn ye,' cried the captain, pacing to andfro before them, 'the vultures would not touch ye, ye villains!' "at sunrise he summoned all hands; andseparating 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--justicedemanded it; but for the present, considering their timely surrender, hewould let them go with a reprimand, which he accordingly administered in thevernacular. "'but as for you, ye carrion rogues,'turning to the three men in the rigging-- 'for you, i mean to mince ye up for thetry-pots;' and, seizing a rope, he applied it with all his might to the backs of the two traitors, till they yelled no more, butlifelessly hung their heads sideways, as
the two crucified thieves are drawn. "'my wrist is sprained with ye!' he cried,at last; 'but there is still rope enough left for you, my fine bantam, that wouldn'tgive up. take that gag from his mouth, and let ushear what he can say for himself.' "for a moment the exhausted mutineer made atremulous motion of his cramped jaws, and then painfully twisting round his head,said in a sort of hiss, 'what i say is this--and mind it well--if you flog me, imurder you!' "'say ye so? then see how ye frighten me'--and the captain drew off with the rope to strike.
"'best not,' hissed the lakeman."'but i must,'--and the rope was once more drawn back for the stroke. "steelkilt here hissed out something,inaudible to all but the captain; who, to the amazement of all hands, started back,paced the deck rapidly two or three times, and then suddenly throwing down his rope, said, 'i won't do it--let him go--cut himdown: d'ye hear?' "but as the junior mates were hurrying toexecute the order, a pale man, with a bandaged head, arrested them--radney thechief mate. ever since the blow, he had lain in hisberth; but that morning, hearing the tumult
on the deck, he had crept out, and thus farhad watched the whole scene. such was the state of his mouth, that hecould hardly speak; but mumbling something about his being willing and able to do whatthe captain dared not attempt, he snatched the rope and advanced to his pinioned foe. "'you are a coward!' hissed the lakeman."'so i am, but take that.' the mate was in the very act of striking,when another hiss stayed his uplifted arm. he paused: and then pausing no more, madegood his word, spite of steelkilt's threat, whatever that might have been. the three men were then cut down, all handswere turned to, and, sullenly worked by the
moody seamen, the iron pumps clanged asbefore. "just after dark that day, when one watchhad retired below, a clamor was heard in the forecastle; and the two tremblingtraitors running up, besieged the cabin door, saying they durst not consort withthe crew. entreaties, cuffs, and kicks could notdrive them back, so at their own instance they were put down in the ship's run forsalvation. still, no sign of mutiny reappeared amongthe rest. on the contrary, it seemed, that mainly atsteelkilt'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 tothe 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 allher other perils, the town-ho still maintained her mast-heads, and her captainwas just as willing to lower for a fish that moment, as on the day his craft first struck the cruising ground; and radney themate was quite as ready to change his berth for a boat, and with his bandaged mouthseek to gag in death the vital jaw of the whale.
"but though the lakeman had induced theseamen to adopt this sort of passiveness in their conduct, he kept his own counsel (atleast till all was over) concerning his own proper and private revenge upon the man who had stung him in the ventricles of hisheart. he was in radney the chief mate's watch;and as if the infatuated man sought to run more than half way to meet his doom, afterthe scene at the rigging, he insisted, against the express counsel of the captain, upon resuming the head of his watch atnight. upon this, and one or two othercircumstances, steelkilt systematically
built the plan of his revenge. "during the night, radney had anunseamanlike way of sitting on the bulwarks of the quarter-deck, and leaning his armupon the gunwale of the boat which was hoisted up there, a little above the ship'sside. in this attitude, it was well known, hesometimes dozed. there was a considerable vacancy betweenthe boat and the ship, and down between this was the sea. steelkilt calculated his time, and foundthat his next trick at the helm would come round at two o'clock, in the morning of thethird day from that in which he had been
betrayed. at his leisure, he employed the interval inbraiding something very carefully in his watches below."'what are you making there?' said a shipmate. "'what do you think? what does it looklike?' "'like a lanyard for your bag; but it's anodd one, seems to me.' "'yes, rather oddish,' said the lakeman,holding it at arm's length before him; 'but i think it will answer.shipmate, i haven't enough twine,--have you any?'
"but there was none in the forecastle."'then i must get some from old rad;' and he rose to go aft."'you don't mean to go a begging to him!' said a sailor. "'why not? do you think he won't do me a turn, whenit's to help himself in the end, shipmate?' and going to the mate, he looked at himquietly, and asked him for some twine to mend his hammock. it was given him--neither twine nor lanyardwere seen again; but the next night an iron ball, closely netted, partly rolled fromthe pocket of the lakeman's monkey jacket,
as he was tucking the coat into his hammockfor a pillow. twenty-four hours after, his trick at thesilent helm--nigh to the man who was apt to doze over the grave always ready dug to theseaman's hand--that fatal hour was then to come; and in the fore-ordaining soul of steelkilt, the mate was already stark andstretched as a corpse, with his forehead crushed in. "but, gentlemen, a fool saved the would-bemurderer from the bloody deed he had planned.yet complete revenge he had, and without being the avenger.
for by a mysterious fatality, heaven itselfseemed to step in to take out of his hands into its own the damning thing he wouldhave done. "it was just between daybreak and sunriseof the morning of the second day, when they were washing down the decks, that a stupidteneriffe man, drawing water in the main- chains, all at once shouted out, 'there sherolls! there she rolls!' jesu, what a whale!it was moby dick. "'moby dick!' cried don sebastian; 'st.dominic! sir sailor, but do whales havechristenings? whom call you moby dick?'
"'a very white, and famous, and most deadlyimmortal monster, don;--but that would be too long a story.'"'how? how?' cried all the young spaniards, crowding. "'nay, dons, dons--nay, nay!i cannot rehearse that now. let me get more into the air, sirs.' "'the chicha! the chicha!' cried don pedro;'our vigorous friend looks faint;--fill up his empty glass!' "no need, gentlemen; one moment, and iproceed.--now, gentlemen, so suddenly perceiving the snowy whale within fiftyyards of the ship--forgetful of the compact
among the crew--in the excitement of the moment, the teneriffe man had instinctivelyand involuntarily lifted his voice for the monster, though for some little time pastit had been plainly beheld from the three sullen mast-heads. all was now a phrensy. 'the white whale--the white whale!' was thecry from captain, mates, and harpooneers, who, undeterred by fearful rumours, wereall anxious to capture so famous and precious a fish; while the dogged crew eyed askance, and with curses, the appallingbeauty of the vast milky mass, that lit up
by a horizontal spangling sun, shifted andglistened like a living opal in the blue morning sea. gentlemen, a strange fatality pervades thewhole career of these events, as if verily mapped out before the world itself wascharted. the mutineer was the bowsman of the mate,and when fast to a fish, it was his duty to sit next him, while radney stood up withhis lance in the prow, and haul in or slacken the line, at the word of command. moreover, when the four boats were lowered,the mate's got the start; and none howled more fiercely with delight than didsteelkilt, as he strained at his oar.
after a stiff pull, their harpooneer gotfast, and, spear in hand, radney sprang to the bow.he was always a furious man, it seems, in a boat. and now his bandaged cry was, to beach himon the whale's topmost back. nothing loath, his bowsman hauled him upand up, through a blinding foam that blent two whitenesses together; till of a suddenthe boat struck as against a sunken ledge, and keeling over, spilled out the standingmate. that instant, as he fell on the whale'sslippery back, the boat righted, and was dashed aside by the swell, while radney wastossed over into the sea, on the other
flank of the whale. he struck out through the spray, and, foran instant, was dimly seen through that veil, wildly seeking to remove himself fromthe eye of moby dick. but the whale rushed round in a suddenmaelstrom; seized the swimmer between his jaws; and rearing high up with him, plungedheadlong again, and went down. "meantime, at the first tap of the boat'sbottom, 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 ofthe boat, quickly brought his knife to the
line.he cut it; and the whale was free. but, at some distance, moby dick roseagain, with some tatters of radney's red woollen shirt, caught in the teeth that haddestroyed him. all four boats gave chase again; but thewhale eluded them, and finally wholly disappeared. "in good time, the town-ho reached herport--a savage, solitary place--where no civilized creature resided. there, headed by the lakeman, all but fiveor six of the foremastmen deliberately deserted among the palms; eventually, as itturned out, seizing a large double war-
canoe of the savages, and setting sail forsome other harbor. "the ship's company being reduced to but ahandful, the captain called upon the islanders to assist him in the laboriousbusiness of heaving down the ship to stop the leak. but to such unresting vigilance over theirdangerous allies was this small band of whites necessitated, both by night and byday, and so extreme was the hard work they underwent, that upon the vessel being ready again for sea, they were in such a weakenedcondition that the captain durst not put off with them in so heavy a vessel.
after taking counsel with his officers, heanchored the ship as far off shore as possible; loaded and ran out his two cannonfrom the bows; stacked his muskets on the poop; and warning the islanders not to approach the ship at their peril, took oneman with him, and setting the sail of his best whale-boat, steered straight beforethe wind for tahiti, five hundred miles distant, to procure a reinforcement to hiscrew. "on the fourth day of the sail, a largecanoe was descried, which seemed to have touched at a low isle of corals. he steered away from it; but the savagecraft bore down on him; and soon the voice
of steelkilt hailed him to heave to, or hewould run him under water. the captain presented a pistol. with one foot on each prow of the yokedwar-canoes, the lakeman laughed him to scorn; assuring him that if the pistol somuch as clicked in the lock, he would bury him in bubbles and foam. "'what do you want of me?' cried thecaptain. "'where are you bound? and for what are youbound?' demanded steelkilt; 'no lies.' "'i am bound to tahiti for more men.' "'very good.let me board you a moment--i come in
peace.' with that he leaped from the canoe, swam tothe 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, andremain there six days. if i do not, may lightning strike me!' "'a pretty scholar,' laughed the lakeman.'adios, senor!' and leaping into the sea, he swam back to his comrades.
"watching the boat till it was fairlybeached, 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 wereabout to sail for france, and were providentially in want of precisely thatnumber of men which the sailor headed. they embarked; and so for ever got thestart of their former captain, had he been at all minded to work them legalretribution. "some ten days after the french shipssailed, the whale-boat arrived, and the captain was forced to enlist some of themore civilized tahitians, who had been
somewhat used to the sea. chartering a small native schooner, hereturned with them to his vessel; and finding all right there, again resumed hiscruisings. "where steelkilt now is, gentlemen, noneknow; but upon the island of nantucket, the widow of radney still turns to the seawhich refuses to give up its dead; still in dreams sees the awful white whale thatdestroyed him. "'are you through?' said don sebastian,quietly. "'i am, don.' "'then i entreat you, tell me if to thebest of your own convictions, this your
story is in substance really true?it is so passing wonderful! did you get it from an unquestionablesource? bear with me if i seem to press.' "'also bear with all of us, sir sailor; forwe all join in don sebastian's suit,' cried the company, with exceeding interest."'is there a copy of the holy evangelists in the golden inn, gentlemen?' "'nay,' said don sebastian; 'but i know aworthy 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 thepriest also, don?' "'though there are no auto-da-fe's in limanow,' said one of the company to another; 'i fear our sailor friend runs risk of thearchiepiscopacy. let us withdraw more out of the moonlight. i see no need of this.'"'excuse me for running after you, don sebastian; but may i also beg that you willbe particular in procuring the largest sized evangelists you can.' "'this is the priest, he brings you theevangelists,' said don sebastian, gravely, returning with a tall and solemn figure."'let me remove my hat.
now, venerable priest, further into thelight, and hold the holy book before me that i may touch it. "'so help me heaven, and on my honour thestory i have told ye, gentlemen, is in substance and its great items, true. i know it to be true; it happened on thisball; i trod the ship; i knew the crew; i have seen and talked with steelkilt sincethe death of radney.'" -chapter 55.of the monstrous pictures of whales. i shall ere long paint to you as well asone can without canvas, something like the true form of the whale as he actuallyappears to the eye of the whaleman when in
his own absolute body the whale is moored alongside the whale-ship so that he can befairly stepped upon there. it may be worth while, therefore,previously to advert to those curious imaginary portraits of him which even downto the present day confidently challenge the faith of the landsman. it is time to set the world right in thismatter, by proving such pictures of the whale all wrong. it may be that the primal source of allthose pictorial delusions will be found among the oldest hindoo, egyptian, andgrecian sculptures.
for ever since those inventive butunscrupulous times when on the marble panellings of temples, the pedestals ofstatues, and on shields, medallions, cups, and coins, the dolphin was drawn in scales of chain-armor like saladin's, and ahelmeted head like st. george's; ever since then has something of the same sort oflicense prevailed, not only in most popular pictures of the whale, but in manyscientific presentations of him. now, by all odds, the most ancient extantportrait anyways purporting to be the whale's, is to be found in the famouscavern-pagoda of elephanta, in india. the brahmins maintain that in the almostendless sculptures of that immemorial
pagoda, all the trades and pursuits, everyconceivable avocation of man, were prefigured ages before any of them actuallycame into being. no wonder then, that in some sort our nobleprofession of whaling should have been there shadowed forth. the hindoo whale referred to, occurs in aseparate department of the wall, depicting the incarnation of vishnu in the form ofleviathan, learnedly known as the matse avatar. but though this sculpture is half man andhalf whale, so as only to give the tail of the latter, yet that small section of himis all wrong.
it looks more like the tapering tail of ananaconda, than the broad palms of the true whale's majestic flukes. but go to the old galleries, and look nowat a great christian painter's portrait of this fish; for he succeeds no better thanthe antediluvian hindoo. it is guido's picture of perseus rescuingandromeda from the sea-monster or whale. where did guido get the model of such astrange creature as that? nor does hogarth, in painting the samescene in his own "perseus descending," make out one whit better. the huge corpulence of that hogarthianmonster undulates on the surface, scarcely
drawing one inch of water. it has a sort of howdah on its back, andits distended tusked mouth into which the billows are rolling, might be taken for thetraitors' gate leading from the thames by water into the tower. then, there are the prodromus whales of oldscotch sibbald, and jonah's whale, as depicted in the prints of old bibles andthe cuts of old primers. what shall be said of these? as for the book-binder's whale winding likea vine-stalk round the stock of a descending anchor--as stamped and gilded onthe 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 sointended when the device was first introduced. it was introduced by an old italianpublisher somewhere about the 15th century, during the revival of learning; and inthose days, and even down to a comparatively late period, dolphins were
popularly supposed to be a species of theleviathan. in the vignettes and other embellishmentsof some ancient books you will at times meet with very curious touches at thewhale, where all manner of spouts, jets d'eau, hot springs and cold, saratoga and baden-baden, come bubbling up from hisunexhausted brain. in the title-page of the original editionof the "advancement of learning" you will find some curious whales. but quitting all these unprofessionalattempts, let us glance at those pictures of leviathan purporting to be sober,scientific delineations, by those who know.
in old harris's collection of voyages thereare some plates of whales extracted from a dutch book of voyages, a.d. 1671, entitled"a whaling voyage to spitzbergen in the ship jonas in the whale, peter peterson offriesland, master." in one of those plates the whales, likegreat rafts of logs, are represented lying among ice-isles, with white bears runningover their living backs. in another plate, the prodigious blunder ismade of representing the whale with perpendicular flukes. then again, there is an imposing quarto,written by one captain colnett, a post captain in the english navy, entitled "avoyage round cape horn into the south seas,
for the purpose of extending the spermacetiwhale fisheries." in this book is an outline purporting to bea "picture of a physeter or spermaceti whale, drawn by scale from one killed onthe coast of mexico, august, 1793, and hoisted on deck." i doubt not the captain had this veraciouspicture taken for the benefit of his marines. to mention but one thing about it, let mesay that it has an eye which applied, according to the accompanying scale, to afull grown sperm whale, would make the eye of that whale a bow-window some five feetlong.
ah, my gallant captain, why did ye not giveus jonah looking out of that eye! nor are the most conscientious compilationsof natural history for the benefit of the young and tender, free from the sameheinousness of mistake. look at that popular work "goldsmith'sanimated nature." in the abridged london edition of 1807,there are plates of an alleged "whale" and a "narwhale." i do not wish to seem inelegant, but thisunsightly whale looks much like an amputated sow; and, as for the narwhale,one glimpse at it is enough to amaze one, that in this nineteenth century such a
hippogriff could be palmed for genuine uponany intelligent public of schoolboys. then, again, in 1825, bernard germain,count de lacepede, a great naturalist, published a scientific systemized whalebook, wherein are several pictures of the different species of the leviathan. all these are not only incorrect, but thepicture of the mysticetus or greenland whale (that is to say, the right whale),even scoresby, a long experienced man as touching that species, declares not to haveits counterpart in nature. but the placing of the cap-sheaf to allthis blundering business was reserved for the scientific frederick cuvier, brother tothe famous baron.
in 1836, he published a natural history ofwhales, in which he gives what he calls a picture of the sperm whale. before showing that picture to anynantucketer, you had best provide for your summary retreat from nantucket.in a word, frederick cuvier's sperm whale is not a sperm whale, but a squash. of course, he never had the benefit of awhaling voyage (such men seldom have), but whence he derived that picture, who cantell? perhaps he got it as his scientificpredecessor in the same field, desmarest, got one of his authentic abortions; thatis, from a chinese drawing.
and what sort of lively lads with thepencil those chinese are, many queer cups and saucers inform us. as for the sign-painters' whales seen inthe streets hanging over the shops of oil- dealers, what shall be said of them? they are generally richard iii. whales,with dromedary humps, and very savage; breakfasting on three or four sailor tarts,that is whaleboats full of mariners: their deformities floundering in seas of bloodand blue paint. but these manifold mistakes in depictingthe whale are not so very surprising after all.
consider! most of the scientific drawings have beentaken from the stranded fish; and these are about as correct as a drawing of a wreckedship, with broken back, would correctly represent the noble animal itself in allits undashed pride of hull and spars. though elephants have stood for their full-lengths, the living leviathan has never yet fairly floated himself for his portrait. the living whale, in his full majesty andsignificance, is only to be seen at sea in unfathomable waters; and afloat the vastbulk of him is out of sight, like a launched line-of-battle ship; and out of
that element it is a thing eternallyimpossible for mortal man to hoist him bodily into the air, so as to preserve allhis mighty swells and undulations. and, not to speak of the highly presumabledifference of contour between a young sucking whale and a full-grown platonianleviathan; yet, even in the case of one of those young sucking whales hoisted to a ship's deck, such is then the outlandish,eel-like, limbered, varying shape of him, that his precise expression the devilhimself could not catch. but it may be fancied, that from the nakedskeleton of the stranded whale, accurate hints may be derived touching his trueform.
not at all. for it is one of the more curious thingsabout this leviathan, that his skeleton gives very little idea of his generalshape. though jeremy bentham's skeleton, whichhangs for candelabra in the library of one of his executors, correctly conveys theidea of a burly-browed utilitarian old gentleman, with all jeremy's other leading personal characteristics; yet nothing ofthis kind could be inferred from any leviathan's articulated bones. in fact, as the great hunter says, the mereskeleton of the whale bears the same
relation to the fully invested and paddedanimal as the insect does to the chrysalis that so roundingly envelopes it. this peculiarity is strikingly evinced inthe head, as in some part of this book will be incidentally shown. it is also very curiously displayed in theside fin, the bones of which almost exactly answer to the bones of the human hand,minus only the thumb. this fin has four regular bone-fingers, theindex, middle, ring, and little finger. but all these are permanently lodged intheir fleshy covering, as the human fingers in an artificial covering.
"however recklessly the whale may sometimesserve us," said humorous stubb one day, "he can never be truly said to handle uswithout mittens." for all these reasons, then, any way youmay look at it, you must needs conclude that the great leviathan is that onecreature in the world which must remain unpainted to the last. true, one portrait may hit the mark muchnearer than another, but none can hit it with any very considerable degree ofexactness. so there is no earthly way of finding outprecisely what the whale really looks like. and the only mode in which you can deriveeven a tolerable idea of his living
contour, is by going a whaling yourself;but by so doing, you run no small risk of being eternally stove and sunk by him. wherefore, it seems to me you had best notbe too fastidious in your curiosity touching this leviathan. chapter 56.of the less erroneous pictures of whales, and the true pictures of whaling scenes. in connexion with the monstrous pictures ofwhales, i am strongly tempted here to enter upon those still more monstrous stories ofthem which are to be found in certain books, both ancient and modern, especially
in pliny, purchas, hackluyt, harris,cuvier, etc. but i pass that matter by. i know of only four published outlines ofthe great sperm whale; colnett's, huggins's, frederick cuvier's, and beale's.in the previous chapter colnett and cuvier have been referred to. huggins's is far better than theirs; but,by great odds, beale's is the best. all beale's drawings of this whale aregood, excepting the middle figure in the picture of three whales in variousattitudes, capping his second chapter. his frontispiece, boats attacking spermwhales, though no doubt calculated to
excite the civil scepticism of some parlormen, is admirably correct and life-like in its general effect. some of the sperm whale drawings in j. rossbrowne are pretty correct in contour; but they are wretchedly engraved.that is not his fault though. of the right whale, the best outlinepictures are in scoresby; but they are drawn on too small a scale to convey adesirable impression. he has but one picture of whaling scenes,and this is a sad deficiency, because it is by such pictures only, when at all welldone, that you can derive anything like a truthful idea of the living whale as seenby his living hunters.
but, taken for all in all, by far thefinest, though in some details not the most correct, presentations of whales andwhaling scenes to be anywhere found, are two large french engravings, well executed,and taken from paintings by one garnery. respectively, they represent attacks on thesperm and right whale. in the first engraving a noble sperm whaleis depicted in full majesty of might, just risen beneath the boat from theprofundities of the ocean, and bearing high in the air upon his back the terrific wreckof the stoven planks. the prow of the boat is partially unbroken,and is drawn just balancing upon the monster's spine; and standing in that prow,for that one single incomputable flash of
time, you behold an oarsman, half shrouded by the incensed boiling spout of the whale,and in the act of leaping, as if from a precipice.the action of the whole thing is wonderfully good and true. the half-emptied line-tub floats on thewhitened sea; the wooden poles of the spilled harpoons obliquely bob in it; theheads of the swimming crew are scattered about the whale in contrasting expressions of affright; while in the black stormydistance the ship is bearing down upon the scene.
serious fault might be found with theanatomical details of this whale, but let that pass; since, for the life of me, icould not draw so good a one. in the second engraving, the boat is in theact of drawing alongside the barnacled flank of a large running right whale, thatrolls his black weedy bulk in the sea like some mossy rock-slide from the patagoniancliffs. his jets are erect, full, and black likesoot; so that from so abounding a smoke in the chimney, you would think there must bea brave supper cooking in the great bowels below. sea fowls are pecking at the small crabs,shell-fish, and other sea candies and
maccaroni, which the right whale sometimescarries on his pestilent back. and all the while the thick-lippedleviathan is rushing through the deep, leaving tons of tumultuous white curds inhis wake, and causing the slight boat to rock in the swells like a skiff caught nighthe paddle-wheels of an ocean steamer. thus, the foreground is all ragingcommotion; but behind, in admirable artistic contrast, is the glassy level of asea becalmed, the drooping unstarched sails of the powerless ship, and the inert mass of a dead whale, a conquered fortress, withthe flag of capture lazily hanging from the whale-pole inserted into his spout-hole.who garnery the painter is, or was, i know
not. but my life for it he was eitherpractically conversant with his subject, or else marvellously tutored by someexperienced whaleman. the french are the lads for paintingaction. go and gaze upon all the paintings ofeurope, and where will you find such a gallery of living and breathing commotionon canvas, as in that triumphal hall at versailles; where the beholder fights his way, pell-mell, through the consecutivegreat battles of france; where every sword seems a flash of the northern lights, andthe successive armed kings and emperors
dash by, like a charge of crowned centaurs? not wholly unworthy of a place in thatgallery, are these sea battle-pieces of garnery. the natural aptitude of the french forseizing the picturesqueness of things seems to be peculiarly evinced in what paintingsand engravings they have of their whaling scenes. with not one tenth of england's experiencein the fishery, and not the thousandth part of that of the americans, they havenevertheless furnished both nations with the only finished sketches at all capable
of conveying the real spirit of the whalehunt. for the most part, the english and americanwhale draughtsmen seem entirely content with presenting the mechanical outline ofthings, such as the vacant profile of the whale; which, so far as picturesqueness of effect is concerned, is about tantamount tosketching the profile of a pyramid. even scoresby, the justly renowned rightwhaleman, after giving us a stiff full length of the greenland whale, and three orfour delicate miniatures of narwhales and porpoises, treats us to a series of classical engravings of boat hooks,chopping knives, and grapnels; and with the
microscopic diligence of a leuwenhoecksubmits to the inspection of a shivering world ninety-six fac-similes of magnifiedarctic snow crystals. i mean no disparagement to the excellentvoyager (i honour him for a veteran), but in so important a matter it was certainlyan oversight not to have procured for every crystal a sworn affidavit taken before agreenland justice of the peace. in addition to those fine engravings fromgarnery, there are two other french engravings worthy of note, by some one whosubscribes himself "h. durand." one of them, though not precisely adaptedto our present purpose, nevertheless deserves mention on other accounts.
it is a quiet noon-scene among the isles ofthe pacific; a french whaler anchored, inshore, in a calm, and lazily taking wateron board; the loosened sails of the ship, and the long leaves of the palms in the background, both drooping together in thebreezeless air. the effect is very fine, when consideredwith reference to its presenting the hardy fishermen under one of their few aspects oforiental repose. the other engraving is quite a differentaffair: the ship hove-to upon the open sea, and in the very heart of the leviathaniclife, with a right whale alongside; the vessel (in the act of cutting-in) hove over
to the monster as if to a quay; and a boat,hurriedly pushing off from this scene of activity, is about giving chase to whalesin the distance. the harpoons and lances lie levelled foruse; three oarsmen are just setting the mast in its hole; while from a sudden rollof the sea, the little craft stands half- erect out of the water, like a rearinghorse. from the ship, the smoke of the torments ofthe boiling whale is going up like the smoke over a village of smithies; and towindward, a black cloud, rising up with earnest of squalls and rains, seems toquicken the activity of the excited seamen. chapter 57.of whales in paint; in teeth; in wood; in
sheet-iron; in stone; in mountains; instars. on tower-hill, as you go down to the londondocks, you may have seen a crippled beggar (or kedger, as the sailors say) holding apainted board before him, representing the tragic scene in which he lost his leg. there are three whales and three boats; andone of the boats (presumed to contain the missing leg in all its original integrity)is being crunched by the jaws of the foremost whale. any time these ten years, they tell me, hasthat man held up that picture, and exhibited that stump to an incredulousworld.
but the time of his justification has nowcome. his three whales are as good whales as wereever published in wapping, at any rate; and his stump as unquestionable a stump as anyyou will find in the western clearings. but, though for ever mounted on that stump,never a stump-speech does the poor whaleman make; but, with downcast eyes, standsruefully contemplating his own amputation. throughout the pacific, and also innantucket, and new bedford, and sag harbor, you will come across lively sketches ofwhales and whaling-scenes, graven by the fishermen themselves on sperm whale-teeth, or ladies' busks wrought out of the rightwhale-bone, and other like skrimshander
articles, as the whalemen call the numerouslittle ingenious contrivances they elaborately carve out of the roughmaterial, in their hours of ocean leisure. some of them have little boxes ofdentistical-looking implements, specially intended for the skrimshandering business. but, in general, they toil with their jack-knives alone; and, with that almost omnipotent tool of the sailor, they willturn you out anything you please, in the way of a mariner's fancy. long exile from christendom andcivilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which god placed him,i.e. what is called savagery.
your true whale-hunter is as much a savageas an iroquois. i myself am a savage, owning no allegiancebut to the king of the cannibals; and ready at any moment to rebel against him. now, one of the peculiar characteristics ofthe savage in his domestic hours, is his wonderful patience of industry. an ancient hawaiian war-club or spear-paddle, in its full multiplicity and elaboration of carving, is as great atrophy of human perseverance as a latin lexicon. for, with but a bit of broken sea-shell ora shark's tooth, that miraculous intricacy
of wooden net-work has been achieved; andit has cost steady years of steady application. as with the hawaiian savage, so with thewhite sailor-savage. with the same marvellous patience, and withthe same single shark's tooth, of his one poor jack-knife, he will carve you a bit ofbone sculpture, not quite as workmanlike, but as close packed in its maziness of design, as the greek savage, achilles'sshield; and full of barbaric spirit and suggestiveness, as the prints of that fineold dutch savage, albert durer. wooden whales, or whales cut in profile outof the small dark slabs of the noble south
sea war-wood, are frequently met with inthe forecastles of american whalers. some of them are done with much accuracy. at some old gable-roofed country houses youwill see brass whales hung by the tail for knockers to the road-side door.when the porter is sleepy, the anvil-headed whale would be best. but these knocking whales are seldomremarkable as faithful essays. on the spires of some old-fashionedchurches you will see sheet-iron whales placed there for weather-cocks; but theyare so elevated, and besides that are to all intents and purposes so labelled with
"hands off!" you cannot examine themclosely enough to decide upon their merit. in bony, ribby regions of the earth, whereat the base of high broken cliffs masses of rock lie strewn in fantastic groupings uponthe plain, you will often discover images as of the petrified forms of the leviathan partly merged in grass, which of a windyday breaks against them in a surf of green surges. then, again, in mountainous countries wherethe traveller is continually girdled by amphitheatrical heights; here and therefrom some lucky point of view you will catch passing glimpses of the profiles ofwhales defined along the undulating ridges.
but you must be a thorough whaleman, to seethese sights; and not only that, but if you wish to return to such a sight again, youmust be sure and take the exact intersecting latitude and longitude of your first stand-point, else so chance-like aresuch observations of the hills, that your precise, previous stand-point would requirea laborious re-discovery; like the soloma islands, which still remain incognita, though once high-ruffed mendanna trod themand old figuera chronicled them. nor when expandingly lifted by yoursubject, can you fail to trace out great whales in the starry heavens, and boats inpursuit of them; as when long filled with
thoughts of war the eastern nations sawarmies locked in battle among the clouds. thus at the north have i chased leviathanround and round the pole with the revolutions of the bright points that firstdefined him to me. and beneath the effulgent antarctic skies ihave boarded the argo-navis, and joined the chase against the starry cetus far beyondthe utmost stretch of hydrus and the flying fish. with a frigate's anchors for my bridle-bitts and fasces of harpoons for spurs, would i could mount that whale and leap thetopmost skies, to see whether the fabled heavens with all their countless tentsreally lie encamped beyond my mortal sight!
chapter 58.brit. steering north-eastward from the crozetts,we fell in with vast meadows of brit, the minute, yellow substance, upon which theright whale largely feeds. for leagues and leagues it undulated roundus, so that we seemed to be sailing through boundless fields of ripe and golden wheat. on the second day, numbers of right whaleswere seen, who, secure from the attack of a sperm whaler like the pequod, with openjaws sluggishly swam through the brit, which, adhering to the fringing fibres of that wondrous venetian blind in theirmouths, was in that manner separated from
the water that escaped at the lip. as morning mowers, who side by side slowlyand seethingly advance their scythes through the long wet grass of marshy meads;even so these monsters swam, making a strange, grassy, cutting sound; and leaving behind them endless swaths of blue upon theyellow sea.* *that part of the sea known among whalemenas the "brazil banks" does not bear that name as the banks of newfoundland do,because of there being shallows and soundings there, but because of this remarkable meadow-like appearance, causedby the vast drifts of brit continually
floating in those latitudes, where theright whale is often chased. but it was only the sound they made as theyparted the brit which at all reminded one of mowers. seen from the mast-heads, especially whenthey paused and were stationary for a while, their vast black forms looked morelike lifeless masses of rock than anything else. and as in the great hunting countries ofindia, the stranger at a distance will sometimes pass on the plains recumbentelephants without knowing them to be such, taking them for bare, blackened elevations
of the soil; even so, often, with him, whofor the first time beholds this species of the leviathans of the sea. and even when recognised at last, theirimmense magnitude renders it very hard really to believe that such bulky masses ofovergrowth can possibly be instinct, in all parts, with the same sort of life thatlives in a dog or a horse. indeed, in other respects, you can hardlyregard any creatures of the deep with the same feelings that you do those of theshore. for though some old naturalists havemaintained that all creatures of the land are of their kind in the sea; and thoughtaking a broad general view of the thing,
this may very well be; yet coming to specialties, where, for example, does theocean furnish any fish that in disposition answers to the sagacious kindness of thedog? the accursed shark alone can in any genericrespect be said to bear comparative analogy to him. but though, to landsmen in general, thenative inhabitants of the seas have ever been regarded with emotions unspeakablyunsocial and repelling; though we know the sea to be an everlasting terra incognita, so that columbus sailed over numberlessunknown worlds to discover his one
superficial western one; though, by vastodds, the most terrific of all mortal disasters have immemorially and indiscriminately befallen tens and hundredsof thousands of those who have gone upon the waters; though but a moment'sconsideration will teach, that however baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, thatscience and skill may augment; yet for ever and for ever, to the crack of doom, the seawill insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continualrepetition of these very impressions, man
has lost that sense of the full awfulnessof the sea which aboriginally belongs to the first boat we read of, floated on anocean, that with portuguese vengeance had whelmed a whole world without leaving somuch as a widow. that same ocean rolls now; that same oceandestroyed the wrecked ships of last year. yea, foolish mortals, noah's flood is notyet subsided; two thirds of the fair world it yet covers. wherein differ the sea and the land, that amiracle upon one is not a miracle upon the other? preternatural terrors rested upon thehebrews, when under the feet of korah and
his company the live ground opened andswallowed them up for ever; yet not a modern sun ever sets, but in precisely the same manner the live sea swallows up shipsand crews. but not only is the sea such a foe to manwho is an alien to it, but it is also a fiend to its own off-spring; worse than thepersian host who murdered his own guests; sparing not the creatures which itself hathspawned. like a savage tigress that tossing in thejungle overlays her own cubs, so the sea dashes even the mightiest whales againstthe rocks, and leaves them there side by side with the split wrecks of ships.
no mercy, no power but its own controls it.panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, themasterless ocean overruns the globe. consider the subtleness of the sea; how itsmost dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, andtreacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. consider also the devilish brilliance andbeauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape ofmany species of sharks. consider, once more, the universalcannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternalwar since the world began.
consider all this; and then turn to thisgreen, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land;and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? for as this appalling ocean surrounds theverdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular tahiti, full of peace andjoy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life. god keep thee!push not off from that isle, thou canst never return! -chapter 59.squid.
slowly wading through the meadows of brit,the pequod still held on her way north- eastward towards the island of java; agentle air impelling her keel, so that in the surrounding serenity her three tall tapering masts mildly waved to that languidbreeze, as three mild palms on a plain. and still, at wide intervals in the silverynight, the lonely, alluring jet would be seen. but one transparent blue morning, when astillness almost preternatural spread over the sea, however unattended with anystagnant calm; when the long burnished sun- glade on the waters seemed a golden finger
laid across them, enjoining some secrecy;when the slippered waves whispered together as they softly ran on; in this profoundhush of the visible sphere a strange spectre was seen by daggoo from the main-mast-head. in the distance, a great white mass lazilyrose, and rising higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the azure, atlast gleamed before our prow like a snow- slide, new slid from the hills. thus glistening for a moment, as slowly itsubsided, and sank. then once more arose, and silently gleamed.it seemed not a whale; and yet is this moby dick? thought daggoo.
again the phantom went down, but on re-appearing once more, with a stiletto-like cry that startled every man from his nod,the negro yelled out--"there! there again! there she breaches! right ahead! the white whale, the white whale!"upon this, the seamen rushed to the yard- arms, as in swarming-time the bees rush tothe boughs. bare-headed in the sultry sun, ahab stoodon the bowsprit, and with one hand pushed far behind in readiness to wave his ordersto the helmsman, cast his eager glance in the direction indicated aloft by theoutstretched motionless arm of daggoo. whether the flitting attendance of the onestill and solitary jet had gradually worked
upon ahab, so that he was now prepared toconnect the ideas of mildness and repose with the first sight of the particular whale he pursued; however this was, orwhether his eagerness betrayed him; whichever way it might have been, no soonerdid he distinctly perceive the white mass, than with a quick intensity he instantlygave orders for lowering. the four boats were soon on the water;ahab's in advance, and all swiftly pulling towards their prey. soon it went down, and while, with oarssuspended, we were awaiting its reappearance, lo! in the same spot where itsank, once more it slowly rose.
almost forgetting for the moment allthoughts of moby dick, we now gazed at the most wondrous phenomenon which the secretseas have hitherto revealed to mankind. a vast pulpy mass, furlongs in length andbreadth, of a glancing cream-colour, lay floating on the water, innumerable longarms radiating from its centre, and curling and twisting like a nest of anacondas, as if blindly to clutch at any hapless objectwithin reach. no perceptible face or front did it have;no conceivable token of either sensation or instinct; but undulated there on thebillows, an unearthly, formless, chance- like apparition of life.
as with a low sucking sound it slowlydisappeared again, starbuck still gazing at the agitated waters where it had sunk, witha wild voice exclaimed--"almost rather had i seen moby dick and fought him, than tohave seen thee, thou white ghost!" "what was it, sir?" said flask. "the great live squid, which, they say, fewwhale-ships ever beheld, and returned to their ports to tell of it." but ahab said nothing; turning his boat, hesailed back to the vessel; the rest as silently following. whatever superstitions the sperm whalemenin general have connected with the sight of
this object, certain it is, that a glimpseof it being so very unusual, that circumstance has gone far to invest it withportentousness. so rarely is it beheld, that though one andall of them declare it to be the largest animated thing in the ocean, yet very fewof them have any but the most vague ideas concerning its true nature and form; notwithstanding, they believe it to furnishto the sperm whale his only food. for though other species of whales findtheir food above water, and may be seen by man in the act of feeding, the spermacetiwhale obtains his whole food in unknown zones below the surface; and only by
inference is it that any one can tell ofwhat, precisely, that food consists. at times, when closely pursued, he willdisgorge what are supposed to be the detached arms of the squid; some of themthus exhibited exceeding twenty and thirty feet in length. they fancy that the monster to which thesearms belonged ordinarily clings by them to the bed of the ocean; and that the spermwhale, unlike other species, is supplied with teeth in order to attack and tear it. there seems some ground to imagine that thegreat kraken of bishop pontoppodan may ultimately resolve itself into squid.
the manner in which the bishop describesit, as alternately rising and sinking, with some other particulars he narrates, in allthis the two correspond. but much abatement is necessary withrespect to the incredible bulk he assigns by some naturalists who have vaguely heardrumors of the mysterious creature, here spoken of, it is included among the classof cuttle-fish, to which, indeed, in certain external respects it would seem tobelong, but only as the anak of the tribe. chapter 60.the line. with reference to the whaling scene shortlyto be described, as well as for the better understanding of all similar sceneselsewhere presented, i have here to speak
of the magical, sometimes horrible whale-line. the line originally used in the fishery wasof the best hemp, slightly vapoured with tar, not impregnated with it, as in thecase of ordinary ropes; for while tar, as ordinarily used, makes the hemp more pliable to the rope-maker, and also rendersthe rope itself more convenient to the sailor for common ship use; yet, not onlywould the ordinary quantity too much stiffen the whale-line for the close coiling to which it must be subjected; butas most seamen are beginning to learn, tar in general by no means adds to the rope'sdurability or strength, however much it may
give it compactness and gloss. of late years the manilla rope has in theamerican fishery almost entirely superseded hemp as a material for whale-lines; for,though not so durable as hemp, it is stronger, and far more soft and elastic; and i will add (since there is anaesthetics in all things), is much more handsome and becoming to the boat, thanhemp. hemp is a dusky, dark fellow, a sort ofindian; but manilla is as a golden-haired circassian to behold.the whale-line is only two-thirds of an inch in thickness.
at first sight, you would not think it sostrong as it really is. by experiment its one and fifty yarns willeach suspend a weight of one hundred and twenty pounds; so that the whole rope willbear a strain nearly equal to three tons. in length, the common sperm whale-linemeasures something over two hundred fathoms. towards the stern of the boat it isspirally coiled away in the tub, not like the worm-pipe of a still though, but so asto form one round, cheese-shaped mass of densely bedded "sheaves," or layers of concentric spiralizations, without anyhollow but the "heart," or minute vertical
tube formed at the axis of the cheese. as the least tangle or kink in the coilingwould, 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 anentire morning in this business, carrying the line high aloft and then reeving itdownwards through a block towards the tub, so as in the act of coiling to free it fromall possible wrinkles and twists. in the english boats two tubs are usedinstead of one; the same line being continuously coiled in both tubs.
there is some advantage in this; becausethese twin-tubs being so small they fit more readily into the boat, and do notstrain it so much; whereas, the american tub, nearly three feet in diameter and of proportionate depth, makes a rather bulkyfreight for a craft whose planks are but one half-inch in thickness; for the bottomof the whale-boat is like critical ice, which will bear up a considerable distributed weight, but not very much of aconcentrated one. when the painted canvas cover is clapped onthe american line-tub, the boat looks as if it were pulling off with a prodigious greatwedding-cake to present to the whales.
both ends of the line are exposed; thelower end terminating in an eye-splice or loop coming up from the bottom against theside of the tub, and hanging over its edge completely disengaged from everything. this arrangement of the lower end isnecessary on two accounts. first: in order to facilitate the fasteningto it of an additional line from a neighboring boat, in case the strickenwhale should sound so deep as to threaten to carry off the entire line originallyattached to the harpoon. in these instances, the whale of course isshifted like a mug of ale, as it were, from the one boat to the other; though the firstboat always hovers at hand to assist its
consort. second: this arrangement is indispensablefor common safety's sake; for were the lower end of the line in any way attachedto 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, hewould not stop there, for the doomed boat would infallibly be dragged down after himinto the profundity of the sea; and in that case no town-crier would ever find heragain. before lowering the boat for the chase, theupper end of the line is taken aft from the tub, and passing round the loggerheadthere, is again carried forward the entire
length of the boat, resting crosswise upon the loom or handle of every man's oar, sothat it jogs against his wrist in rowing; and also passing between the men, as theyalternately sit at the opposite gunwales, to the leaded chocks or grooves in the extreme pointed prow of the boat, where awooden pin or skewer the size of a common quill, prevents it from slipping out. from the chocks it hangs in a slightfestoon over the bows, and is then passed inside the boat again; and some ten ortwenty fathoms (called box-line) being coiled upon the box in the bows, it
continues its way to the gunwale still alittle further aft, and is then attached to the short-warp--the rope which isimmediately connected with the harpoon; but previous to that connexion, the short-warp goes through sundry mystifications tootedious to detail. thus the whale-line folds the whole boat inits complicated coils, twisting and writhing around it in almost everydirection. all the oarsmen are involved in itsperilous contortions; so that to the timid eye of the landsman, they seem as indianjugglers, with the deadliest snakes sportively festooning their limbs.
nor can any son of mortal woman, for thefirst time, seat himself amid those hempen intricacies, and while straining his utmostat the oar, bethink him that at any unknown instant the harpoon may be darted, and all these horrible contortions be put in playlike ringed lightnings; he cannot be thus circumstanced without a shudder that makesthe very marrow in his bones to quiver in him like a shaken jelly. yet habit--strange thing! what cannot habitaccomplish?--gayer sallies, more merry mirth, better jokes, and brighterrepartees, you never heard over your mahogany, than you will hear over the half-
inch white cedar of the whale-boat, whenthus hung in hangman's nooses; and, like the six burghers of calais before kingedward, the six men composing the crew pull into the jaws of death, with a halteraround every neck, as you may say. perhaps a very little thought will nowenable you to account for those repeated whaling disasters--some few of which arecasually chronicled--of this man or that man being taken out of the boat by theline, and lost. for, when the line is darting out, to beseated then in the boat, is like being seated in the midst of the manifoldwhizzings of a steam-engine in full play, when every flying beam, and shaft, andwheel, is grazing you.
it is worse; for you cannot sit motionlessin the heart of these perils, because the boat is rocking like a cradle, and you arepitched one way and the other, without the slightest warning; and only by a certain self-adjusting buoyancy andsimultaneousness of volition and action, can you escape being made a mazeppa of, andrun away with where the all-seeing sun himself could never pierce you out. again: as the profound calm which onlyapparently precedes and prophesies of the storm, is perhaps more awful than the stormitself; for, indeed, the calm is but the wrapper and envelope of the storm; and
contains it in itself, as the seeminglyharmless rifle holds the fatal powder, and the ball, and the explosion; so thegraceful repose of the line, as it silently serpentines about the oarsmen before being brought into actual play--this is a thingwhich 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 theirnecks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortalsrealize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life.
and if you be a philosopher, though seatedin the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than thoughseated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side. chapter 61.stubb kills a whale. if to starbuck the apparition of the squidwas 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 'parmwhale." the next day was exceedingly still andsultry, and with nothing special to engage
them, the pequod's crew could hardly resistthe spell of sleep induced by such a vacant sea. for this part of the indian ocean throughwhich we then were voyaging is not what whalemen call a lively ground; that is, itaffords fewer glimpses of porpoises, dolphins, flying-fish, and other vivacious denizens of more stirring waters, thanthose off the rio de la plata, or the in- shore ground off peru. it was my turn to stand at the foremast-head; and with my shoulders leaning against the slackened royal shrouds, to and fro iidly swayed in what seemed an enchanted
air. no resolution could withstand it; in thatdreamy mood losing all consciousness, at last my soul went out of my body; though mybody still continued to sway as a pendulum will, long after the power which firstmoved it is withdrawn. ere forgetfulness altogether came over me,i had noticed that the seamen at the main and mizzen-mast-heads were already drowsy. so that at last all three of us lifelesslyswung from the spars, and for every swing that we made there was a nod from belowfrom the slumbering helmsman. the waves, too, nodded their indolentcrests; and across the wide trance of the
sea, east nodded to west, and the sun overall. suddenly bubbles seemed bursting beneath myclosed eyes; like vices my hands grasped the shrouds; some invisible, graciousagency preserved me; with a shock i came back to life. and lo! close under our lee, not fortyfathoms off, a gigantic sperm whale lay rolling in the water like the capsized hullof a frigate, his broad, glossy back, of an ethiopian hue, glistening in the sun's rayslike a mirror. but lazily undulating in the trough of thesea, and ever and anon tranquilly spouting his vapoury jet, the whale looked like aportly burgher smoking his pipe of a warm
afternoon. but that pipe, poor whale, was thy last. as if struck by some enchanter's wand, thesleepy ship and every sleeper in it all at once started into wakefulness; and morethan a score of voices from all parts of the vessel, simultaneously with the three notes from aloft, shouted forth theaccustomed cry, as the great fish slowly and regularly spouted the sparkling brineinto the air. "clear away the boats! luff!" cried ahab.and obeying his own order, he dashed the
helm down before the helmsman could handlethe spokes. the sudden exclamations of the crew musthave alarmed the whale; and ere the boats were down, majestically turning, he swamaway to the leeward, but with such a steady tranquillity, and making so few ripples as he swam, that thinking after all he mightnot as yet be alarmed, ahab gave orders that not an oar should be used, and no manmust speak but in whispers. so seated like ontario indians on thegunwales of the boats, we swiftly but silently paddled along; the calm notadmitting of the noiseless sails being set. presently, as we thus glided in chase, themonster perpendicularly flitted his tail
forty feet into the air, and then sank outof sight like a tower swallowed up. "there go flukes!" was the cry, anannouncement immediately followed by stubb's producing his match and ignitinghis pipe, for now a respite was granted. after the full interval of his sounding hadelapsed, the whale rose again, and being now in advance of the smoker's boat, andmuch nearer to it than to any of the others, stubb counted upon the honour ofthe capture. it was obvious, now, that the whale had atlength become aware of his pursuers. all silence of cautiousness was thereforeno longer of use. paddles were dropped, and oars came loudlyinto play.
and still puffing at his pipe, stubbcheered on his crew to the assault. yes, a mighty change had come over thefish. all alive to his jeopardy, he was going"head out"; that part obliquely projecting from the mad yeast which he brewed.* *it will be seen in some other place ofwhat a very light substance the entire interior of the sperm whale's enormous headconsists. though apparently the most massive, it isby far the most buoyant part about him. so that with ease he elevates it in theair, and invariably does so when going at his utmost speed.
besides, such is the breadth of the upperpart of the front of his head, and such the tapering cut-water formation of the lowerpart, that by obliquely elevating his head, he thereby may be said to transform himself from a bluff-bowed sluggish galliot into asharppointed new york pilot-boat. "start her, start her, my men! don't hurry yourselves; take plenty oftime--but start her; start her like thunder-claps, that's all," cried stubb,spluttering out the smoke as he spoke. "start her, now; give 'em the long andstrong stroke, tashtego. start her, tash, my boy--start her, all;but keep cool, keep cool--cucumbers is the
word--easy, easy--only start her like grimdeath and grinning devils, and raise the buried dead perpendicular out of theirgraves, boys--that's all. start her!""woo-hoo! wa-hee!" screamed the gay-header in reply,raising some old war-whoop to the skies; as every oarsman in the strained boatinvoluntarily bounced forward with the one tremendous leading stroke which the eagerindian gave. but his wild screams were answered byothers quite as wild. "kee-hee! kee-hee!" yelled daggoo, straining forwardsand backwards on his seat, like a pacing
tiger in his cage."ka-la! koo-loo!" howled queequeg, as if smackinghis lips over a mouthful of grenadier's steak.and thus with oars and yells the keels cut the sea. meanwhile, stubb retaining his place in thevan, still encouraged his men to the onset, all the while puffing the smoke from hismouth. like desperadoes they tugged and theystrained, till the welcome cry was heard-- "stand up, tashtego!--give it to him!"the harpoon was hurled. "stern all!"
the oarsmen backed water; the same momentsomething went hot and hissing along every one of their wrists.it was the magical line. an instant before, stubb had swiftly caughttwo additional turns with it round the loggerhead, whence, by reason of itsincreased rapid circlings, a hempen blue smoke now jetted up and mingled with thesteady fumes from his pipe. as the line passed round and round theloggerhead; so also, just before reaching that point, it blisteringly passed throughand through both of stubb's hands, from which the hand-cloths, or squares of quilted canvas sometimes worn at thesetimes, had accidentally dropped.
it was like holding an enemy's sharp two-edged sword by the blade, and that enemy all the time striving to wrest it out ofyour clutch. "wet the line! wet the line!" cried stubbto the tub oarsman (him seated by the tub) who, snatching off his hat, dashed sea-water into it.* more turns were taken, so that the line began holding its place. the boat now flew through the boiling waterlike 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 ofthis act, it may here be stated, that, in
the old dutch fishery, a mop was used todash the running line with water; in many other ships, a wooden piggin, or bailer, isset apart for that purpose. your hat, however, is the most convenient. from the vibrating line extending theentire length of the upper part of the boat, and from its now being more tightthan a harpstring, you would have thought the craft had two keels--one cleaving the water, the other the air--as the boatchurned on through both opposing elements at once. a continual cascade played at the bows; aceaseless whirling eddy in her wake; and,
at the slightest motion from within, evenbut of a little finger, the vibrating, cracking craft canted over her spasmodicgunwale into the sea. thus they rushed; each man with might andmain clinging to his seat, to prevent being tossed to the foam; and the tall form oftashtego at the steering oar crouching almost double, in order to bring down hiscentre of gravity. whole atlantics and pacifics seemed passedas they shot on their way, till at length the whale somewhat slackened his flight. "haul in--haul in!" cried stubb to thebowsman! and, facing round towards the whale, all hands began pulling the boat upto him, while yet the boat was being towed
on. soon ranging up by his flank, stubb, firmlyplanting his knee in the clumsy cleat, darted dart after dart into the flyingfish; at the word of command, the boat alternately sterning out of the way of the whale's horrible wallow, and then rangingup for another fling. the red tide now poured from all sides ofthe monster like brooks down a hill. his tormented body rolled not in brine butin blood, which bubbled and seethed for furlongs behind in their wake. the slanting sun playing upon this crimsonpond in the sea, sent back its reflection
into every face, so that they all glowed toeach other like red men. and all the while, jet after jet of whitesmoke was agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whale, and vehement puffafter puff from the mouth of the excited headsman; as at every dart, hauling in upon his crooked lance (by the line attached toit), stubb straightened it again and again, by a few rapid blows against the gunwale,then again and again sent it into the "pull up--pull up!" he now cried to thebowsman, as the waning whale relaxed in his wrath."pull up!--close to!" and the boat ranged along the fish's flank.
when reaching far over the bow, stubbslowly churned his long sharp lance into the fish, and kept it there, carefullychurning and churning, as if cautiously seeking to feel after some gold watch that the whale might have swallowed, and whichhe 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; for, starting fromhis trance into that unspeakable thing called his "flurry," the monster horriblywallowed in his blood, overwrapped himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, so
that the imperilled craft, instantlydropping astern, had much ado blindly to struggle out from that phrensied twilightinto the clear air of the day. and now abating in his flurry, the whaleonce more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilatingand contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. at last, gush after gush of clotted redgore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; andfalling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. his heart had burst!"he's dead, mr. stubb," said daggoo.
"yes; both pipes smoked out!" andwithdrawing his own from his mouth, stubb scattered the dead ashes over the water;and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made. chapter 62.the dart. a word concerning an incident in the lastchapter. according to the invariable usage of thefishery, the whale-boat pushes off from the ship, with the headsman or whale-killer astemporary steersman, and the harpooneer or whale-fastener pulling the foremost oar,the one known as the harpooneer-oar. now it needs a strong, nervous arm tostrike the first iron into the fish; for
often, in what is called a long dart, theheavy implement has to be flung to the distance of twenty or thirty feet. but however prolonged and exhausting thechase, the harpooneer is expected to pull his oar meanwhile to the uttermost; indeed,he is expected to set an example of superhuman activity to the rest, not only by incredible rowing, but by repeated loudand intrepid exclamations; and what it is to keep shouting at the top of one'scompass, while all the other muscles are strained and half started--what that isnone know but those who have tried it. for one, i cannot bawl very heartily andwork very recklessly at one and the same
time. in this straining, bawling state, then,with his back to the fish, all at once the exhausted harpooneer hears the excitingcry--"stand up, and give it to him!" he now has to drop and secure his oar, turnround on his centre half way, seize his harpoon from the crotch, and with whatlittle strength may remain, he essays to pitch it somehow into the whale. no wonder, taking the whole fleet ofwhalemen in a body, that out of fifty fair chances for a dart, not five aresuccessful; no wonder that so many hapless harpooneers are madly cursed and disrated;
no wonder that some of them actually bursttheir blood-vessels in the boat; no wonder that some sperm whalemen are absent fouryears with four barrels; no wonder that to many ship owners, whaling is but a losing concern; for it is the harpooneer thatmakes the voyage, and if you take the breath out of his body how can you expectto find it there when most wanted! again, if the dart be successful, then atthe second critical instant, that is, when the whale starts to run, the boatheader andharpooneer likewise start to running fore and aft, to the imminent jeopardy ofthemselves and every one else. it is then they change places; and theheadsman, the chief officer of the little
craft, takes his proper station in the bowsof the boat. now, i care not who maintains the contrary,but all this is both foolish and unnecessary. the headsman should stay in the bows fromfirst to last; he should both dart the harpoon and the lance, and no rowingwhatever should be expected of him, except under circumstances obvious to anyfisherman. i know that this would sometimes involve aslight loss of speed in the chase; but long experience in various whalemen of more thanone nation has convinced me that in the vast majority of failures in the fishery,
it has not by any means been so much thespeed of the whale as the before described exhaustion of the harpooneer that hascaused them. to insure the greatest efficiency in thedart, the harpooneers of this world must start to their feet from out of idleness,and not from out of toil. chapter 63.the crotch. out of the trunk, the branches grow; out ofthem, the twigs. so, in productive subjects, grow thechapters. the crotch alluded to on a previous pagedeserves independent mention. it is a notched stick of a peculiar form,some two feet in length, which is
perpendicularly inserted into the starboardgunwale near the bow, for the purpose of furnishing a rest for the wooden extremity of the harpoon, whose other naked, barbedend slopingly projects from the prow. thereby the weapon is instantly at hand toits hurler, who snatches it up as readily from its rest as a backwoodsman swings hisrifle from the wall. it is customary to have two harpoonsreposing in the crotch, respectively called the first and second irons. but these two harpoons, each by its owncord, are both connected with the line; the object being this: to dart them both, ifpossible, one instantly after the other
into the same whale; so that if, in the coming drag, one should draw out, the othermay still retain a hold. it is a doubling of the chances. but it very often happens that owing to theinstantaneous, violent, convulsive running of the whale upon receiving the first iron,it becomes impossible for the harpooneer, however lightning-like in his movements, topitch the second iron into him. nevertheless, as the second iron is alreadyconnected with the line, and the line is running, hence that weapon must, at allevents, be anticipatingly tossed out of the boat, somehow and somewhere; else the mostterrible jeopardy would involve all hands.
tumbled into the water, it accordingly isin such cases; the spare coils of box line (mentioned in a preceding chapter) makingthis feat, in most instances, prudently practicable. but this critical act is not alwaysunattended with the saddest and most fatal casualties. furthermore: you must know that when thesecond iron is thrown overboard, it thenceforth becomes a dangling, sharp-edgedterror, skittishly curvetting about both boat and whale, entangling the lines, or cutting them, and making a prodigioussensation in all directions.
nor, in general, is it possible to secureit again until the whale is fairly captured and a corpse. consider, now, how it must be in the caseof four boats all engaging one unusually strong, active, and knowing whale; whenowing to these qualities in him, as well as to the thousand concurring accidents of such an audacious enterprise, eight or tenloose second irons may be simultaneously dangling about him. for, of course, each boat is supplied withseveral harpoons to bend on to the line should the first one be ineffectuallydarted without recovery.
all these particulars are faithfullynarrated here, as they will not fail to elucidate several most important, howeverintricate passages, in scenes hereafter to be painted.