he'll charm the ship to no good at last. I don't half like that chap,
Stubb. Did you ever notice how that tusk of his is a sort of carved into
a snake's head, Stubb?"
"Sink him! I never look at him at all; but if ever I get a chance of a
dark night, and he standing hard by the bulwarks, and no one by; look
down there, Flask"--pointing into the sea with a peculiar motion of
both hands--"Aye, will I! Flask, I take that Fedallah to be the devil in
disguise. Do you believe that cock and bull story about his having been
stowed away on board ship? He's the devil, I say. The reason why you
don't see his tail, is because he tucks it up out of sight; he carries
it coiled away in his pocket, I guess. Blast him! now that I think of
it, he's always wanting oakum to stuff into the toes of his boots."
"He sleeps in his boots, don't he? He hasn't got any hammock; but I've
seen him lay of nights in a coil of rigging."
"No doubt, and it's because of his cursed tail; he coils it down, do ye
see, in the eye of the rigging."
"What's the old man have so much to do with him for?"
"Striking up a swap or a bargain, I suppose."
"Why, do ye see, the old man is hard bent after that White Whale, and
the devil there is trying to come round him, and get him to swap away
his silver watch, or his soul, or something of that sort, and then he'll
surrender Moby Dick."
"Pooh! Stubb, you are skylarking; how can Fedallah do that?"
"I don't know, Flask, but the devil is a curious chap, and a wicked
one, I tell ye. Why, they say as how he went a sauntering into the
old flag-ship once, switching his tail about devilish easy and
gentlemanlike, and inquiring if the old governor was at home. Well, he
was at home, and asked the devil what he wanted. The devil, switching
his hoofs, up and says, 'I want John.' 'What for?' says the old
governor. 'What business is that of yours,' says the devil, getting
mad,--'I want to use him.' 'Take him,' says the governor--and by the
Lord, Flask, if the devil didn't give John the Asiatic cholera before
he got through with him, I'll eat this whale in one mouthful. But look
sharp--ain't you all ready there? Well, then, pull ahead, and let's get
the whale alongside."
"I think I remember some such story as you were telling," said Flask,
when at last the two boats were slowly advancing with their burden
towards the ship, "but I can't remember where."
"Three Spaniards? Adventures of those three bloody-minded soladoes? Did
ye read it there, Flask? I guess ye did?"
"No: never saw such a book; heard of it, though. But now, tell me,
Stubb, do you suppose that that devil you was speaking of just now, was
the same you say is now on board the Pequod?"
"Am I the same man that helped kill this whale? Doesn't the devil live
for ever; who ever heard that the devil was dead? Did you ever see
any parson a wearing mourning for the devil? And if the devil has a
latch-key to get into the admiral's cabin, don't you suppose he can
crawl into a porthole? Tell me that, Mr. Flask?"
"How old do you suppose Fedallah is, Stubb?"
"Do you see that mainmast there?" pointing to the ship; "well, that's
the figure one; now take all the hoops in the Pequod's hold, and string
along in a row with that mast, for oughts, do you see; well, that
wouldn't begin to be Fedallah's age. Nor all the coopers in creation
couldn't show hoops enough to make oughts enough."
"But see here, Stubb, I thought you a little boasted just now, that you
meant to give Fedallah a sea-toss, if you got a good chance. Now, if
he's so old as all those hoops of yours come to, and if he is going
to live for ever, what good will it do to pitch him overboard--tell me
"Give him a good ducking, anyhow."
"But he'd crawl back."
"Duck him again; and keep ducking him."
"Suppose he should take it into his head to duck you, though--yes, and
drown you--what then?"
"I should like to see him try it; I'd give him such a pair of black eyes
that he wouldn't dare to show his face in the admiral's cabin again for
a long while, let alone down in the orlop there, where he lives, and
hereabouts on the upper decks where he sneaks so much. Damn the devil,
Flask; so you suppose I'm afraid of the devil? Who's afraid of
him, except the old governor who daresn't catch him and put him in
double-darbies, as he deserves, but lets him go about kidnapping
people; aye, and signed a bond with him, that all the people the devil
kidnapped, he'd roast for him? There's a governor!"
"Do you suppose Fedallah wants to kidnap Captain Ahab?"
"Do I suppose it? You'll know it before long, Flask. But I am going now
to keep a sharp look-out on him; and if I see anything very suspicious
going on, I'll just take him by the nape of his neck, and say--Look
here, Beelzebub, you don't do it; and if he makes any fuss, by the Lord
I'll make a grab into his pocket for his tail, take it to the capstan,
and give him such a wrenching and heaving, that his tail will come short
off at the stump--do you see; and then, I rather guess when he finds
himself docked in that queer fashion, he'll sneak off without the poor
satisfaction of feeling his tail between his legs."
"And what will you do with the tail, Stubb?"
"Do with it? Sell it for an ox whip when we get home;--what else?"
"Now, do you mean what you say, and have been saying all along, Stubb?"
"Mean or not mean, here we are at the ship."
The boats were here hailed, to tow the whale on the larboard side, where
fluke chains and other necessaries were already prepared for securing
"Didn't I tell you so?" said Flask; "yes, you'll soon see this right
whale's head hoisted up opposite that parmacetti's."
In good time, Flask's saying proved true. As before, the Pequod steeply
leaned over towards the sperm whale's head, now, by the counterpoise of
both heads, she regained her even keel; though sorely strained, you may
well believe. So, when on one side you hoist in Locke's head, you go
over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant's and you come
back again; but in very poor plight. Thus, some minds for ever keep
trimming boat. Oh, ye foolish! throw all these thunder-heads overboard,
and then you will float light and right.
In disposing of the body of a right whale, when brought alongside the
ship, the same preliminary proceedings commonly take place as in the
case of a sperm whale; only, in the latter instance, the head is cut off
whole, but in the former the lips and tongue are separately removed and
hoisted on deck, with all the well known black bone attached to what is
called the crown-piece. But nothing like this, in the present case,
had been done. The carcases of both whales had dropped astern; and
the head-laden ship not a little resembled a mule carrying a pair of
Meantime, Fedallah was calmly eyeing the right whale's head, and ever
and anon glancing from the deep wrinkles there to the lines in his own
hand. And Ahab chanced so to stand, that the Parsee occupied his shadow;
while, if the Parsee's shadow was there at all it seemed only to
blend with, and lengthen Ahab's. As the crew toiled on, Laplandish
speculations were bandied among them, concerning all these passing
CHAPTER 74. The Sperm Whale's Head--Contrasted View.
Here, now, are two great whales, laying their heads together; let us
join them, and lay together our own.
Of the grand order of folio leviathans, the Sperm Whale and the Right
Whale are by far the most noteworthy. They are the only whales regularly
hunted by man. To the Nantucketer, they present the two extremes of all
the known varieties of the whale. As the external difference between
them is mainly observable in their heads; and as a head of each is this
moment hanging from the Pequod's side; and as we may freely go from one
to the other, by merely stepping across the deck:--where, I should like
to know, will you obtain a better chance to study practical cetology
In the first place, you are struck by the general contrast between these
heads. Both are massive enough in all conscience; but there is a certain
mathematical symmetry in the Sperm Whale's which the Right Whale's sadly
lacks. There is more character in the Sperm Whale's head. As you behold
it, you involuntarily yield the immense superiority to him, in point
of pervading dignity. In the present instance, too, this dignity is
heightened by the pepper and salt colour of his head at the summit,
giving token of advanced age and large experience. In short, he is what
the fishermen technically call a "grey-headed whale."
Let us now note what is least dissimilar in these heads--namely, the two
most important organs, the eye and the ear. Far back on the side of
the head, and low down, near the angle of either whale's jaw, if you
narrowly search, you will at last see a lashless eye, which you would
fancy to be a young colt's eye; so out of all proportion is it to the
magnitude of the head.
Now, from this peculiar sideway position of the whale's eyes, it is
plain that he can never see an object which is exactly ahead, no more
than he can one exactly astern. In a word, the position of the whale's
eyes corresponds to that of a man's ears; and you may fancy, for
yourself, how it would fare with you, did you sideways survey objects
through your ears. You would find that you could only command some
thirty degrees of vision in advance of the straight side-line of sight;
and about thirty more behind it. If your bitterest foe were walking
straight towards you, with dagger uplifted in broad day, you would not
be able to see him, any more than if he were stealing upon you from
behind. In a word, you would have two backs, so to speak; but, at the
same time, also, two fronts (side fronts): for what is it that makes the
front of a man--what, indeed, but his eyes?
Moreover, while in most other animals that I can now think of, the eyes
are so planted as imperceptibly to blend their visual power, so as to
produce one picture and not two to the brain; the peculiar position of
the whale's eyes, effectually divided as they are by many cubic feet of
solid head, which towers between them like a great mountain separating
two lakes in valleys; this, of course, must wholly separate the
impressions which each independent organ imparts. The whale, therefore,
must see one distinct picture on this side, and another distinct
picture on that side; while all between must be profound darkness and
nothingness to him. Man may, in effect, be said to look out on the world
from a sentry-box with two joined sashes for his window. But with the
whale, these two sashes are separately inserted, making two distinct
windows, but sadly impairing the view. This peculiarity of the whale's
eyes is a thing always to be borne in mind in the fishery; and to be
remembered by the reader in some subsequent scenes.
A curious and most puzzling question might be started concerning this
visual matter as touching the Leviathan. But I must be content with a
hint. So long as a man's eyes are open in the light, the act of seeing
is involuntary; that is, he cannot then help mechanically seeing
whatever objects are before him. Nevertheless, any one's experience
will teach him, that though he can take in an undiscriminating sweep of
things at one glance, it is quite impossible for him, attentively,
and completely, to examine any two things--however large or however
small--at one and the same instant of time; never mind if they lie side
by side and touch each other. But if you now come to separate these two
objects, and surround each by a circle of profound darkness; then, in
order to see one of them, in such a manner as to bring your mind to
bear on it, the other will be utterly excluded from your contemporary
consciousness. How is it, then, with the whale? True, both his eyes,
in themselves, must simultaneously act; but is his brain so much more
comprehensive, combining, and subtle than man's, that he can at the same
moment of time attentively examine two distinct prospects, one on one
side of him, and the other in an exactly opposite direction? If he
can, then is it as marvellous a thing in him, as if a man were able
simultaneously to go through the demonstrations of two distinct problems
in Euclid. Nor, strictly investigated, is there any incongruity in this
It may be but an idle whim, but it has always seemed to me, that the
extraordinary vacillations of movement displayed by some whales when
beset by three or four boats; the timidity and liability to queer
frights, so common to such whales; I think that all this indirectly
proceeds from the helpless perplexity of volition, in which their
divided and diametrically opposite powers of vision must involve them.
But the ear of the whale is full as curious as the eye. If you are an
entire stranger to their race, you might hunt over these two heads
for hours, and never discover that organ. The ear has no external leaf
whatever; and into the hole itself you can hardly insert a quill, so
wondrously minute is it. It is lodged a little behind the eye. With
respect to their ears, this important difference is to be observed
between the sperm whale and the right. While the ear of the former has
an external opening, that of the latter is entirely and evenly covered
over with a membrane, so as to be quite imperceptible from without.
Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the
world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which
is smaller than a hare's? But if his eyes were broad as the lens of
Herschel's great telescope; and his ears capacious as the porches of
cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or sharper of
hearing? Not at all.--Why then do you try to "enlarge" your mind?
Let us now with whatever levers and steam-engines we have at hand, cant
over the sperm whale's head, that it may lie bottom up; then, ascending
by a ladder to the summit, have a peep down the mouth; and were it not
that the body is now completely separated from it, with a lantern we
might descend into the great Kentucky Mammoth Cave of his stomach. But
let us hold on here by this tooth, and look about us where we are. What
a really beautiful and chaste-looking mouth! from floor to ceiling,
lined, or rather papered with a glistening white membrane, glossy as
But come out now, and look at this portentous lower jaw, which seems
like the long narrow lid of an immense snuff-box, with the hinge at one
end, instead of one side. If you pry it up, so as to get it overhead,
and expose its rows of teeth, it seems a terrific portcullis; and such,
alas! it proves to many a poor wight in the fishery, upon whom these
spikes fall with impaling force. But far more terrible is it to behold,
when fathoms down in the sea, you see some sulky whale, floating there
suspended, with his prodigious jaw, some fifteen feet long, hanging
straight down at right-angles with his body, for all the world like a
ship's jib-boom. This whale is not dead; he is only dispirited; out of
sorts, perhaps; hypochondriac; and so supine, that the hinges of his
jaw have relaxed, leaving him there in that ungainly sort of plight, a
reproach to all his tribe, who must, no doubt, imprecate lock-jaws upon
In most cases this lower jaw--being easily unhinged by a practised
artist--is disengaged and hoisted on deck for the purpose of extracting
the ivory teeth, and furnishing a supply of that hard white whalebone
with which the fishermen fashion all sorts of curious articles,
including canes, umbrella-stocks, and handles to riding-whips.
With a long, weary hoist the jaw is dragged on board, as if it were an
anchor; and when the proper time comes--some few days after the other
work--Queequeg, Daggoo, and Tashtego, being all accomplished dentists,
are set to drawing teeth. With a keen cutting-spade, Queequeg lances
the gums; then the jaw is lashed down to ringbolts, and a tackle being
rigged from aloft, they drag out these teeth, as Michigan oxen drag
stumps of old oaks out of wild wood lands. There are generally forty-two
teeth in all; in old whales, much worn down, but undecayed; nor filled
after our artificial fashion. The jaw is afterwards sawn into slabs, and
piled away like joists for building houses.
CHAPTER 75. The Right Whale's Head--Contrasted View.
Crossing the deck, let us now have a good long look at the Right Whale's
As in general shape the noble Sperm Whale's head may be compared to a
Roman war-chariot (especially in front, where it is so broadly rounded);
so, at a broad view, the Right Whale's head bears a rather inelegant
resemblance to a gigantic galliot-toed shoe. Two hundred years ago an
old Dutch voyager likened its shape to that of a shoemaker's last. And
in this same last or shoe, that old woman of the nursery tale, with
the swarming brood, might very comfortably be lodged, she and all her
But as you come nearer to this great head it begins to assume different
aspects, according to your point of view. If you stand on its summit and
look at these two F-shaped spoutholes, you would take the whole head
for an enormous bass-viol, and these spiracles, the apertures in its
sounding-board. Then, again, if you fix your eye upon this strange,
crested, comb-like incrustation on the top of the mass--this green,
barnacled thing, which the Greenlanders call the "crown," and the
Southern fishers the "bonnet" of the Right Whale; fixing your eyes
solely on this, you would take the head for the trunk of some huge oak,
with a bird's nest in its crotch. At any rate, when you watch those live
crabs that nestle here on this bonnet, such an idea will be almost
sure to occur to you; unless, indeed, your fancy has been fixed by the
technical term "crown" also bestowed upon it; in which case you will
take great interest in thinking how this mighty monster is actually a
diademed king of the sea, whose green crown has been put together for
him in this marvellous manner. But if this whale be a king, he is a very
sulky looking fellow to grace a diadem. Look at that hanging lower lip!
what a huge sulk and pout is there! a sulk and pout, by carpenter's
measurement, about twenty feet long and five feet deep; a sulk and pout
that will yield you some 500 gallons of oil and more.
A great pity, now, that this unfortunate whale should be hare-lipped.
The fissure is about a foot across. Probably the mother during an
important interval was sailing down the Peruvian coast, when earthquakes
caused the beach to gape. Over this lip, as over a slippery threshold,
we now slide into the mouth. Upon my word were I at Mackinaw, I should
take this to be the inside of an Indian wigwam. Good Lord! is this the
road that Jonah went? The roof is about twelve feet high, and runs to a
pretty sharp angle, as if there were a regular ridge-pole there; while
these ribbed, arched, hairy sides, present us with those wondrous, half
vertical, scimetar-shaped slats of whalebone, say three hundred on a
side, which depending from the upper part of the head or crown
bone, form those Venetian blinds which have elsewhere been cursorily
mentioned. The edges of these bones are fringed with hairy fibres,
through which the Right Whale strains the water, and in whose
intricacies he retains the small fish, when openmouthed he goes through
the seas of brit in feeding time. In the central blinds of bone, as they
stand in their natural order, there are certain curious marks, curves,
hollows, and ridges, whereby some whalemen calculate the creature's age,
as the age of an oak by its circular rings. Though the certainty of this
criterion is far from demonstrable, yet it has the savor of analogical
probability. At any rate, if we yield to it, we must grant a far greater
age to the Right Whale than at first glance will seem reasonable.
In old times, there seem to have prevailed the most curious fancies
concerning these blinds. One voyager in Purchas calls them the wondrous
"whiskers" inside of the whale's mouth;* another, "hogs' bristles"; a
third old gentleman in Hackluyt uses the following elegant language:
"There are about two hundred and fifty fins growing on each side of his
upper CHOP, which arch over his tongue on each side of his mouth."
*This reminds us that the Right Whale really has a sort of whisker, or
rather a moustache, consisting of a few scattered white hairs on the
upper part of the outer end of the lower jaw. Sometimes these
tufts impart a rather brigandish expression to his otherwise solemn
As every one knows, these same "hogs' bristles," "fins," "whiskers,"
"blinds," or whatever you please, furnish to the ladies their busks and
other stiffening contrivances. But in this particular, the demand has
long been on the decline. It was in Queen Anne's time that the bone was
in its glory, the farthingale being then all the fashion. And as those
ancient dames moved about gaily, though in the jaws of the whale, as
you may say; even so, in a shower, with the like thoughtlessness, do we
nowadays fly under the same jaws for protection; the umbrella being a
tent spread over the same bone.
But now forget all about blinds and whiskers for a moment, and, standing
in the Right Whale's mouth, look around you afresh. Seeing all these
colonnades of bone so methodically ranged about, would you not think
you were inside of the great Haarlem organ, and gazing upon its
thousand pipes? For a carpet to the organ we have a rug of the softest
Turkey--the tongue, which is glued, as it were, to the floor of the
mouth. It is very fat and tender, and apt to tear in pieces in hoisting
it on deck. This particular tongue now before us; at a passing glance I
should say it was a six-barreler; that is, it will yield you about that
amount of oil.
Ere this, you must have plainly seen the truth of what I started
with--that the Sperm Whale and the Right Whale have almost entirely
different heads. To sum up, then: in the Right Whale's there is no great