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     Moby Dick; Or, The Whale, p.1

       Herman Melville / Actions & Adventure
Moby Dick; Or, The Whale

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

The pale Usher--threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see himnow. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queerhandkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of allthe known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; itsomehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.

”While you take in hand to school others, and to teach them by whatname a whale-fish is to be called in our tongue leaving out, throughignorance, the letter H, which almost alone maketh the signification ofthe word, you deliver that which is not true.” --HACKLUYT

”WHALE.... Sw. and Dan. HVAL. This animal is named from roundness orrolling; for in Dan. HVALT is arched or vaulted.” --WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY

”WHALE.... It is more immediately from the Dut. and Ger. WALLEN; A.S.WALW-IAN, to roll, to wallow.” --RICHARDSON'S DICTIONARY


EXTRACTS (Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian).

It will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and grub-worm of apoor devil of a Sub-Sub appears to have gone through the long Vaticansand street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions towhales he could anyways find in any book whatsoever, sacred orprofane. Therefore you must not, in every case at least, take thehiggledy-piggledy whale statements, however authentic, in theseextracts, for veritable gospel cetology. Far from it. As touching theancient authors generally, as well as the poets here appearing, theseextracts are solely valuable or entertaining, as affording a glancingbird's eye view of what has been promiscuously said, thought, fancied,and sung of Leviathan, by many nations and generations, including ourown.

So fare thee well, poor devil of a Sub-Sub, whose commentator I am. Thoubelongest to that hopeless, sallow tribe which no wine of this worldwill ever warm; and for whom even Pale Sherry would be too rosy-strong;but with whom one sometimes loves to sit, and feel poor-devilish, too;and grow convivial upon tears; and say to them bluntly, with full eyesand empty glasses, and in not altogether unpleasant sadness--Give it up,Sub-Subs! For by how much the more pains ye take to please the world,by so much the more shall ye for ever go thankless! Would that I couldclear out Hampton Court and the Tuileries for ye! But gulp down yourtears and hie aloft to the royal-mast with your hearts; for your friendswho have gone before are clearing out the seven-storied heavens, andmaking refugees of long-pampered Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, againstyour coming. Here ye strike but splintered hearts together--there, yeshall strike unsplinterable glasses!


”And God created great whales.” --GENESIS.

”Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him; One would think the deep tobe hoary.” --JOB.

”Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” --JONAH.

”There go the ships; there is that Leviathan whom thou hast made to playtherein.” --PSALMS.

”In that day, the Lord with his sore, and great, and strong sword,shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crookedserpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.” --ISAIAH

”And what thing soever besides cometh within the chaos of this monster'smouth, be it beast, boat, or stone, down it goes all incontinently thatfoul great swallow of his, and perisheth in the bottomless gulf of hispaunch.” --HOLLAND'S PLUTARCH'S MORALS.

”The Indian Sea breedeth the most and the biggest fishes that are: amongwhich the Whales and Whirlpooles called Balaene, take up as much inlength as four acres or arpens of land.” --HOLLAND'S PLINY.

”Scarcely had we proceeded two days on the sea, when about sunrise agreat many Whales and other monsters of the sea, appeared. Among theformer, one was of a most monstrous size.... This came towards us,open-mouthed, raising the waves on all sides, and beating the sea beforehim into a foam.” --TOOKE'S LUCIAN. ”THE TRUE HISTORY.”

”He visited this country also with a view of catching horse-whales,which had bones of very great value for their teeth, of which he broughtsome to the king.... The best whales were catched in his own country, ofwhich some were forty-eight, some fifty yards long. He said that he wasone of six who had killed sixty in two days.” --OTHER OR OTHER'S VERBALNARRATIVE TAKEN DOWN FROM HIS MOUTH BY KING ALFRED, A.D. 890.

”And whereas all the other things, whether beast or vessel, thatenter into the dreadful gulf of this monster's (whale's) mouth, areimmediately lost and swallowed up, the sea-gudgeon retires into it ingreat security, and there sleeps.” --MONTAIGNE. --APOLOGY FOR RAIMONDSEBOND.

”Let us fly, let us fly! Old Nick take me if is not Leviathan describedby the noble prophet Moses in the life of patient Job.” --RABELAIS.

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

”The great Leviathan that maketh the seas to seethe like boiling pan.”--LORD BACON'S VERSION OF THE PSALMS.

”Touching that monstrous bulk of the whale or ork we have receivednothing certain. They grow exceeding fat, insomuch that an incrediblequantity of oil will be extracted out of one whale.” --IBID. ”HISTORY OFLIFE AND DEATH.”

”The sovereignest thing on earth is parmacetti for an inward bruise.”--KING HENRY.

”Very like a whale.” --HAMLET.

”Which to secure, no skill of leach's art Mote him availle, but to returne againe To his wound's worker, that with lowly dart, Dinting his breast, had bred his restless paine, Like as the wounded whale to shore flies thro' the maine.” --THE FAERIE QUEEN.

”Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies can in a peacefulcalm trouble the ocean till it boil.” --SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT. PREFACE TOGONDIBERT.

”What spermacetti is, men might justly doubt, since the learnedHosmannus in his work of thirty years, saith plainly, Nescio quid sit.”--SIR T. BROWNE. OF SPERMA CETI AND THE SPERMA CETI WHALE. VIDE HIS V.E.

”Like Spencer's Talus with his modern flail He threatens ruin with his ponderous tail. ... Their fixed jav'lins in his side he wears, And on his back a grove of pikes appears.” --WALLER'S BATTLE OF THE SUMMER ISLANDS.

”By art is created that great Leviathan, called a Commonwealth orState--(in Latin, Civitas) which is but an artificial man.” --OPENINGSENTENCE OF HOBBES'S LEVIATHAN.

”Silly Mansoul swallowed it without chewing, as if it had been a spratin the mouth of a whale.” --PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.

”That sea beast Leviathan, which God of all his works Created hugest that swim the ocean stream.” --PARADISE LOST.

---”There Leviathan, Hugest of living creatures, in the deep Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims, And seems a moving land; and at his gills Draws in, and at his breath spouts out a sea.” --IBID.

”The mighty whales which swim in a sea of water, and have a sea of oilswimming in them.” --FULLLER'S PROFANE AND HOLY STATE.

”So close behind some promontory lie The huge Leviathan to attend their prey, And give no chance, but swallow in the fry, Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way.” --DRYDEN'S ANNUS MIRABILIS.

”While the whale is floating at the stern of the ship, they cut off hishead, and tow it with a boat as near the shore as it will come; but itwill be aground in twelve or thirteen feet water.” --THOMAS EDGE'S TENVOYAGES TO SPITZBERGEN, IN PURCHAS.

”In their way they saw many whales sporting in the ocean, and inwantonness fuzzing up the water through their pipes and vents, whichnature has placed on their shoulders.” --SIR T. HERBERT'S VOYAGES INTOASIA AND AFRICA. HARRIS COLL.

”Here they saw such huge troops of whales, that they were forced toproceed with a great deal of caution for fear they should run their shipupon them.” --SCHOUTEN'S SIXTH CIRCUMNAVIGATION.

”We set sail from the Elbe, wind N.E. in the ship called TheJonas-in-the-Whale.... Some say the whale can't open his mouth, but thatis a fable.... They frequently climb up the masts to see whether theycan see a whale, for the first discoverer has a ducat for his pains....I was told of a whale taken near Shetland, that had above a barrel ofherrings in his belly.... One of our harpooneers told me that he caughtonce a whale in Spitzbergen that was white all over.” --A VOYAGE TOGREENLAND, A.D. 1671 HARRIS COLL.

”Several whales have come in upon this coast (Fife) Anno 1652, oneeighty feet in length of the whale-bone kind came in, which (as I wasinformed), besides a vast quantity of oil, did afford 500 weight ofbaleen. The jaws of it stand for a gate in the garden of Pitferren.”--SIBBALD'S FIFE AND KINROSS.

”Myself have agreed to try whether I can master and kill thisSperma-ceti whale, for I could never hear of any of that sort that waskilled by any man, such is his fierceness and swiftness.” --RICHARDSTRAFFORD'S LETTER FROM THE BERMUDAS. PHIL. TRANS. A.D. 1668.

”Whales in the sea God's voice obey.” --N. E. PRIMER.

”We saw also abundance of large whales, there being more in thosesouthern seas, as I may say, by a hundred to one; than we have to thenorthward of us.” --CAPTAIN COWLEY'S VOYAGE ROUND THE GLOBE, A.D. 1729.

”... and the breath of the whale is frequently attended with such aninsupportable smell, as to bring on a disorder of the brain.” --ULLOA'SSOUTH AMERICA.

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

”If we compare land animals in respect to magnitude, with thosethat take up their abode in the deep, we shall find they will appearcontemptible in the comparison. The whale is doubtless the largestanimal in creation.” --GOLDSMITH, NAT. HIST.

”If you should write a fable for little fishes, you would make themspeak like great wales.” --GOLDSMITH TO JOHNSON.

”In the afternoon we saw what was supposed to be a rock, but it wasfound to be a dead whale, which some Asiatics had killed, and were thentowing ashore. They seemed to endeavor to conceal themselves behind thewhale, in order to avoid being seen by us.” --COOK'S VOYAGES.

”The larger whales, they seldom venture to attack. They stand in sogreat dread of some of them, that when out at sea they are afraid tomention even their names, and carry dung, lime-stone, juniper-wood,and some other articles of the same nature in their boats, in order toterrify and prevent their too near approach.” --UNO VON TROIL'S LETTERSON BANKS'S AND SOLANDER'S VOYAGE TO ICELAND IN 1772.

”The Spermacetti Whale found by the Nantuckois, is an active, fierceanimal, and requires vast address and boldness in the fishermen.”--THOMAS JEFFERSON'S WHALE MEMORIAL TO THE FRENCH MINISTER IN 1778.

”And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it?” --EDMUND BURKE'SREFERENCE IN PARLIAMENT TO THE NANTUCKET WHALE-FISHERY.

”Spain--a great whale stranded on the shores of Europe.” --EDMUND BURKE.(SOMEWHERE.)

”A tenth branch of the king's ordinary revenue, said to be grounded onthe consideration of his guarding and protecting the seas from piratesand robbers, is the right to royal fish, which are whale and sturgeon.And these, when either thrown ashore or caught near the coast, are theproperty of the king.” --BLACKSTONE.

”Soon to the sport of death the crews repair: Rodmond unerring o'er his head suspends The barbed steel, and every turn attends.” --FALCONER'S SHIPWRECK.

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

”So fire with water to compare, The ocean serves on high, Up-spouted by a whale in air, To express unwieldy joy.” --COWPER, ON THE QUEEN'S VISIT TO LONDON.

”Ten or fifteen gallons of blood are thrown out of the heart ata stroke, with immense velocity.” --JOHN HUNTER'S ACCOUNT OF THEDISSECTION OF A WHALE. (A SMALL SIZED ONE.)

”The aorta of a whale is larger in the bore than the main pipe of thewater-works at London Bridge, and the water roaring in its passagethrough that pipe is inferior in impetus and velocity to the bloodgushing from the whale's heart.” --PALEY'S THEOLOGY.

”The whale is a mammiferous animal without hind feet.” --BARON CUVIER.

”In 40 degrees south, we saw Spermacetti Whales, but did not takeany till the first of May, the sea being then covered with them.”--COLNETT'S VOYAGE FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXTENDING THE SPERMACETI WHALEFISHERY.

”In the free element beneath me swam, Floundered and dived, in play, in chace, in battle, Fishes of every colour, form, and kind; Which language cannot paint, and mariner Had never seen; from dread Leviathan To insect millions peopling every wave: Gather'd in shoals immense, like floating islands, Led by mysterious instincts through that waste And trackless region, though on every side Assaulted by voracious enemies, Whales, sharks, and monsters, arm'd in front or jaw, With swords, saws, spiral horns, or hooked fangs.” --MONTGOMERY'S WORLD BEFORE THE FLOOD.

”Io! Paean! Io! sing. To the finny people's king. Not a mightier whale than this In the vast Atlantic is; Not a fatter fish than he, Flounders round the Polar Sea.” --CHARLES LAMB'S TRIUMPH OF THE WHALE.

”In the year 1690 some persons were on a high hill observing thewhales spouting and sporting with each other, when one observed:there--pointing to the sea--is a green pasture where our children'sgrand-children will go for bread.” --OBED MACY'S HISTORY OF NANTUCKET.

”I built a cottage for Susan and myself and made a gateway in the formof a Gothic Arch, by setting up a whale's jaw bones.” --HAWTHORNE'STWICE TOLD TALES.

”She came to bespeak a monument for her first love, who had been killedby a whale in the Pacific ocean, no less than forty years ago.” --IBID.

”No, Sir, 'tis a Right Whale,” answered Tom; ”I saw his sprout; he threwup a pair of as pretty rainbows as a Christian would wish to look at.He's a raal oil-butt, that fellow!” --COOPER'S PILOT.

”The papers were brought in, and we saw in the Berlin Gazettethat whales had been introduced on the stage there.” --ECKERMANN'SCONVERSATIONS WITH GOETHE.


”A mariner sat in the shrouds one night, The wind was piping free; Now bright, now dimmed, was the moonlight pale, And the phospher gleamed in the wake of the whale, As it floundered in the sea.” --ELIZABETH OAKES SMITH.

”The quantity of line withdrawn from the boats engaged in the captureof this one whale, amounted altogether to 10,440 yards or nearly sixEnglish miles....

”Sometimes the whale shakes its tremendous tail in the air, which,cracking like a whip, resounds to the distance of three or four miles.”--SCORESBY.

”Mad with the agonies he endures from these fresh attacks, theinfuriated Sperm Whale rolls over and over; he rears his enormous head,and with wide expanded jaws snaps at everything around him; he rushesat the boats with his head; they are propelled before him with vastswiftness, and sometimes utterly destroyed.... It is a matter of greatastonishment that the consideration of the habits of so interesting,and, in a commercial point of view, so important an animal (as the SpermWhale) should have been so entirely neglected, or should have excitedso little curiosity among the numerous, and many of them competentobservers, that of late years, must have possessed the most abundantand the most convenient opportunities of witnessing their habitudes.”--THOMAS BEALE'S HISTORY OF THE SPERM WHALE, 1839.

”The Cachalot” (Sperm Whale) ”is not only better armed than the TrueWhale” (Greenland or Right Whale) ”in possessing a formidable weaponat either extremity of its body, but also more frequently displays adisposition to employ these weapons offensively and in manner at once soartful, bold, and mischievous, as to lead to its being regarded as themost dangerous to attack of all the known species of the whale tribe.”--FREDERICK DEBELL BENNETT'S WHALING VOYAGE ROUND THE GLOBE, 1840.

October 13. ”There she blows,” was sung out from the mast-head. ”Where away?” demanded the captain. ”Three points off the lee bow, sir.” ”Raise up your wheel. Steady!” ”Steady, sir.” ”Mast-head ahoy! Do you see that whale now?” ”Ay ay, sir! A shoal of Sperm Whales! There she blows! There she breaches!” ”Sing out! sing out every time!” ”Ay Ay, sir! There she blows! there--there--THAR she blows--bowes--bo-o-os!” ”How far off?” ”Two miles and a half.” ”Thunder and lightning! so near! Call all hands.” --J. ROSS BROWNE'S ETCHINGS OF A WHALING CRUIZE. 1846.

”The Whale-ship Globe, on board of which vessel occurred the horridtransactions we are about to relate, belonged to the island ofNantucket.” --”NARRATIVE OF THE GLOBE,” BY LAY AND HUSSEY SURVIVORS.A.D. 1828.

Being once pursued by a whale which he had wounded, he parried theassault for some time with a lance; but the furious monster at lengthrushed on the boat; himself and comrades only being preserved by leapinginto the water when they saw the onset was inevitable.” --MISSIONARYJOURNAL OF TYERMAN AND BENNETT.

”Nantucket itself,” said Mr. Webster, ”is a very striking and peculiarportion of the National interest. There is a population of eight or ninethousand persons living here in the sea, adding largely every yearto the National wealth by the boldest and most persevering industry.”--REPORT OF DANIEL WEBSTER'S SPEECH IN THE U. S. SENATE, ON THEAPPLICATION FOR THE ERECTION OF A BREAKWATER AT NANTUCKET. 1828.


”If you make the least damn bit of noise,” replied Samuel, ”I will sendyou to hell.” --LIFE OF SAMUEL COMSTOCK (THE MUTINEER), BY HIS BROTHER,WILLIAM COMSTOCK. ANOTHER VERSION OF THE WHALE-SHIP GLOBE NARRATIVE.

”The voyages of the Dutch and English to the Northern Ocean, in order,if possible, to discover a passage through it to India, though theyfailed of their main object, laid-open the haunts of the whale.”--MCCULLOCH'S COMMERCIAL DICTIONARY.

”These things are reciprocal; the ball rebounds, only to bound forwardagain; for now in laying open the haunts of the whale, the whalemen seemto have indirectly hit upon new clews to that same mystic North-WestPassage.” --FROM ”SOMETHING” UNPUBLISHED.

”It is impossible to meet a whale-ship on the ocean without being struckby her near appearance. The vessel under short sail, with look-outs atthe mast-heads, eagerly scanning the wide expanse around them, has atotally different air from those engaged in regular voyage.” --CURRENTSAND WHALING. U.S. EX. EX.

”Pedestrians in the vicinity of London and elsewhere may recollecthaving seen large curved bones set upright in the earth, either to formarches over gateways, or entrances to alcoves, and they may perhapshave been told that these were the ribs of whales.” --TALES OF A WHALEVOYAGER TO THE ARCTIC OCEAN.

”It was not till the boats returned from the pursuit of these whales,that the whites saw their ship in bloody possession of the savagesenrolled among the crew.” --NEWSPAPER ACCOUNT OF THE TAKING AND RETAKINGOF THE WHALE-SHIP HOBOMACK.

”It is generally well known that out of the crews of Whaling vessels(American) few ever return in the ships on board of which theydeparted.” --CRUISE IN A WHALE BOAT.

”Suddenly a mighty mass emerged from the water, and shot upperpendicularly into the air. It was the whale.” --MIRIAM COFFIN OR THEWHALE FISHERMAN.

”The Whale is harpooned to be sure; but bethink you, how you wouldmanage a powerful unbroken colt, with the mere appliance of a rope tiedto the root of his tail.” --A CHAPTER ON WHALING IN RIBS AND TRUCKS.

”On one occasion I saw two of these monsters (whales) probably male andfemale, slowly swimming, one after the other, within less than a stone'sthrow of the shore” (Terra Del Fuego), ”over which the beech treeextended its branches.” --DARWIN'S VOYAGE OF A NATURALIST.

”'Stern all!' exclaimed the mate, as upon turning his head, he saw thedistended jaws of a large Sperm Whale close to the head of the boat,threatening it with instant destruction;--'Stern all, for your lives!'”--WHARTON THE WHALE KILLER.

”So be cheery, my lads, let your hearts never fail, While the boldharpooneer is striking the whale!” --NANTUCKET SONG.

”Oh, the rare old Whale, mid storm and gale In his ocean home will be A giant in might, where might is right, And King of the boundless sea.” --WHALE SONG.

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