The Project Gutenberg ebook of Moby Dick; or The Whale, by Herman Melville

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be facetious at times; he spins us many clever things of that sort. But

I may as well say--en passant, as the French remark--that I myself--that

is to say, Jack Bunger, late of the reverend clergy--am a strict total

abstinence man; I never drink--"

"Water!" cried the captain; "he never drinks it; it's a sort of fits to

him; fresh water throws him into the hydrophobia; but go on--go on with

the arm story."
"Yes, I may as well," said the surgeon, coolly. "I was about observing,

sir, before Captain Boomer's facetious interruption, that spite of my

best and severest endeavors, the wound kept getting worse and worse; the

truth was, sir, it was as ugly gaping wound as surgeon ever saw; more

than two feet and several inches long. I measured it with the lead line.

In short, it grew black; I knew what was threatened, and off it came.

But I had no hand in shipping that ivory arm there; that thing is

against all rule"--pointing at it with the marlingspike--"that is the

captain's work, not mine; he ordered the carpenter to make it; he had

that club-hammer there put to the end, to knock some one's brains

out with, I suppose, as he tried mine once. He flies into diabolical

passions sometimes. Do ye see this dent, sir"--removing his hat, and

brushing aside his hair, and exposing a bowl-like cavity in his skull,

but which bore not the slightest scarry trace, or any token of ever

having been a wound--"Well, the captain there will tell you how that

came here; he knows."

"No, I don't," said the captain, "but his mother did; he was born with

it. Oh, you solemn rogue, you--you Bunger! was there ever such another

Bunger in the watery world? Bunger, when you die, you ought to die in

pickle, you dog; you should be preserved to future ages, you rascal."

"What became of the White Whale?" now cried Ahab, who thus far had been

impatiently listening to this by-play between the two Englishmen.

"Oh!" cried the one-armed captain, "oh, yes! Well; after he sounded,

we didn't see him again for some time; in fact, as I before hinted, I

didn't then know what whale it was that had served me such a trick, till

some time afterwards, when coming back to the Line, we heard about Moby

Dick--as some call him--and then I knew it was he."
"Did'st thou cross his wake again?"
"But could not fasten?"
"Didn't want to try to: ain't one limb enough? What should I do without

this other arm? And I'm thinking Moby Dick doesn't bite so much as he

"Well, then," interrupted Bunger, "give him your left arm for bait to

get the right. Do you know, gentlemen"--very gravely and mathematically

bowing to each Captain in succession--"Do you know, gentlemen, that the

digestive organs of the whale are so inscrutably constructed by Divine

Providence, that it is quite impossible for him to completely digest

even a man's arm? And he knows it too. So that what you take for the

White Whale's malice is only his awkwardness. For he never means

to swallow a single limb; he only thinks to terrify by feints. But

sometimes he is like the old juggling fellow, formerly a patient of mine

in Ceylon, that making believe swallow jack-knives, once upon a time let

one drop into him in good earnest, and there it stayed for a twelvemonth

or more; when I gave him an emetic, and he heaved it up in small tacks,

d'ye see. No possible way for him to digest that jack-knife, and fully

incorporate it into his general bodily system. Yes, Captain Boomer, if

you are quick enough about it, and have a mind to pawn one arm for the

sake of the privilege of giving decent burial to the other, why in that

case the arm is yours; only let the whale have another chance at you

shortly, that's all."

"No, thank ye, Bunger," said the English Captain, "he's welcome to the

arm he has, since I can't help it, and didn't know him then; but not to

another one. No more White Whales for me; I've lowered for him once, and

that has satisfied me. There would be great glory in killing him, I know

that; and there is a ship-load of precious sperm in him, but, hark ye,

he's best let alone; don't you think so, Captain?"--glancing at the

ivory leg.
"He is. But he will still be hunted, for all that. What is best let

alone, that accursed thing is not always what least allures. He's all a

magnet! How long since thou saw'st him last? Which way heading?"
"Bless my soul, and curse the foul fiend's," cried Bunger, stoopingly

walking round Ahab, and like a dog, strangely snuffing; "this man's

blood--bring the thermometer!--it's at the boiling point!--his pulse

makes these planks beat!--sir!"--taking a lancet from his pocket, and

drawing near to Ahab's arm.
"Avast!" roared Ahab, dashing him against the bulwarks--"Man the boat!

Which way heading?"

"Good God!" cried the English Captain, to whom the question was put.

"What's the matter? He was heading east, I think.--Is your Captain

crazy?" whispering Fedallah.
But Fedallah, putting a finger on his lip, slid over the bulwarks to

take the boat's steering oar, and Ahab, swinging the cutting-tackle

towards him, commanded the ship's sailors to stand by to lower.
In a moment he was standing in the boat's stern, and the Manilla men

were springing to their oars. In vain the English Captain hailed him.

With back to the stranger ship, and face set like a flint to his own,

Ahab stood upright till alongside of the Pequod.

CHAPTER 101. The Decanter.

Ere the English ship fades from sight, be it set down here, that

she hailed from London, and was named after the late Samuel Enderby,

merchant of that city, the original of the famous whaling house of

Enderby & Sons; a house which in my poor whaleman's opinion, comes not

far behind the united royal houses of the Tudors and Bourbons, in point

of real historical interest. How long, prior to the year of our

Lord 1775, this great whaling house was in existence, my numerous

fish-documents do not make plain; but in that year (1775) it fitted

out the first English ships that ever regularly hunted the Sperm Whale;

though for some score of years previous (ever since 1726) our valiant

Coffins and Maceys of Nantucket and the Vineyard had in large fleets

pursued that Leviathan, but only in the North and South Atlantic: not

elsewhere. Be it distinctly recorded here, that the Nantucketers were

the first among mankind to harpoon with civilized steel the great Sperm

Whale; and that for half a century they were the only people of the

whole globe who so harpooned him.

In 1778, a fine ship, the Amelia, fitted out for the express purpose,

and at the sole charge of the vigorous Enderbys, boldly rounded Cape

Horn, and was the first among the nations to lower a whale-boat of any

sort in the great South Sea. The voyage was a skilful and lucky one;

and returning to her berth with her hold full of the precious sperm, the

Amelia's example was soon followed by other ships, English and American,

and thus the vast Sperm Whale grounds of the Pacific were thrown open.

But not content with this good deed, the indefatigable house again

bestirred itself: Samuel and all his Sons--how many, their mother only

knows--and under their immediate auspices, and partly, I think, at their

expense, the British government was induced to send the sloop-of-war

Rattler on a whaling voyage of discovery into the South Sea. Commanded

by a naval Post-Captain, the Rattler made a rattling voyage of it, and

did some service; how much does not appear. But this is not all. In

1819, the same house fitted out a discovery whale ship of their own, to

go on a tasting cruise to the remote waters of Japan. That ship--well

called the "Syren"--made a noble experimental cruise; and it was thus

that the great Japanese Whaling Ground first became generally known.

The Syren in this famous voyage was commanded by a Captain Coffin, a


All honour to the Enderbies, therefore, whose house, I think, exists to

the present day; though doubtless the original Samuel must long ago have

slipped his cable for the great South Sea of the other world.
The ship named after him was worthy of the honour, being a very fast

sailer and a noble craft every way. I boarded her once at midnight

somewhere off the Patagonian coast, and drank good flip down in the

forecastle. It was a fine gam we had, and they were all trumps--every

soul on board. A short life to them, and a jolly death. And that fine

gam I had--long, very long after old Ahab touched her planks with his

ivory heel--it minds me of the noble, solid, Saxon hospitality of that

ship; and may my parson forget me, and the devil remember me, if I ever

lose sight of it. Flip? Did I say we had flip? Yes, and we flipped it

at the rate of ten gallons the hour; and when the squall came (for it's

squally off there by Patagonia), and all hands--visitors and all--were

called to reef topsails, we were so top-heavy that we had to swing each

other aloft in bowlines; and we ignorantly furled the skirts of our

jackets into the sails, so that we hung there, reefed fast in the

howling gale, a warning example to all drunken tars. However, the masts

did not go overboard; and by and by we scrambled down, so sober, that we

had to pass the flip again, though the savage salt spray bursting down

the forecastle scuttle, rather too much diluted and pickled it to my

The beef was fine--tough, but with body in it. They said it was

bull-beef; others, that it was dromedary beef; but I do not know, for

certain, how that was. They had dumplings too; small, but substantial,

symmetrically globular, and indestructible dumplings. I fancied that you

could feel them, and roll them about in you after they were swallowed.

If you stooped over too far forward, you risked their pitching out

of you like billiard-balls. The bread--but that couldn't be helped;

besides, it was an anti-scorbutic; in short, the bread contained the

only fresh fare they had. But the forecastle was not very light, and it

was very easy to step over into a dark corner when you ate it. But all

in all, taking her from truck to helm, considering the dimensions of the

cook's boilers, including his own live parchment boilers; fore and aft,

I say, the Samuel Enderby was a jolly ship; of good fare and plenty;

fine flip and strong; crack fellows all, and capital from boot heels to

But why was it, think ye, that the Samuel Enderby, and some other

English whalers I know of--not all though--were such famous, hospitable

ships; that passed round the beef, and the bread, and the can, and the

joke; and were not soon weary of eating, and drinking, and laughing?

I will tell you. The abounding good cheer of these English whalers

is matter for historical research. Nor have I been at all sparing of

historical whale research, when it has seemed needed.
The English were preceded in the whale fishery by the Hollanders,

Zealanders, and Danes; from whom they derived many terms still extant

in the fishery; and what is yet more, their fat old fashions,

touching plenty to eat and drink. For, as a general thing, the English

merchant-ship scrimps her crew; but not so the English whaler. Hence, in

the English, this thing of whaling good cheer is not normal and natural,

but incidental and particular; and, therefore, must have some special

origin, which is here pointed out, and will be still further elucidated.

During my researches in the Leviathanic histories, I stumbled upon an

ancient Dutch volume, which, by the musty whaling smell of it, I

knew must be about whalers. The title was, "Dan Coopman," wherefore I

concluded that this must be the invaluable memoirs of some Amsterdam

cooper in the fishery, as every whale ship must carry its cooper. I was

reinforced in this opinion by seeing that it was the production of one

"Fitz Swackhammer." But my friend Dr. Snodhead, a very learned man,

professor of Low Dutch and High German in the college of Santa Claus and

St. Pott's, to whom I handed the work for translation, giving him a box

of sperm candles for his trouble--this same Dr. Snodhead, so soon as he

spied the book, assured me that "Dan Coopman" did not mean "The Cooper,"

but "The Merchant." In short, this ancient and learned Low Dutch book

treated of the commerce of Holland; and, among other subjects, contained

a very interesting account of its whale fishery. And in this chapter it

was, headed, "Smeer," or "Fat," that I found a long detailed list of the

outfits for the larders and cellars of 180 sail of Dutch whalemen; from

which list, as translated by Dr. Snodhead, I transcribe the following:
400,000 lbs. of beef. 60,000 lbs. Friesland pork. 150,000 lbs. of stock

fish. 550,000 lbs. of biscuit. 72,000 lbs. of soft bread. 2,800 firkins

of butter. 20,000 lbs. Texel & Leyden cheese. 144,000 lbs. cheese

(probably an inferior article). 550 ankers of Geneva. 10,800 barrels of

Most statistical tables are parchingly dry in the reading; not so in

the present case, however, where the reader is flooded with whole pipes,

barrels, quarts, and gills of good gin and good cheer.
At the time, I devoted three days to the studious digesting of all

this beer, beef, and bread, during which many profound thoughts were

incidentally suggested to me, capable of a transcendental and Platonic

application; and, furthermore, I compiled supplementary tables of my

own, touching the probable quantity of stock-fish, etc., consumed by

every Low Dutch harpooneer in that ancient Greenland and Spitzbergen

whale fishery. In the first place, the amount of butter, and Texel and

Leyden cheese consumed, seems amazing. I impute it, though, to their

naturally unctuous natures, being rendered still more unctuous by the

nature of their vocation, and especially by their pursuing their game

in those frigid Polar Seas, on the very coasts of that Esquimaux country

where the convivial natives pledge each other in bumpers of train oil.

The quantity of beer, too, is very large, 10,800 barrels. Now, as those

polar fisheries could only be prosecuted in the short summer of that

climate, so that the whole cruise of one of these Dutch whalemen,

including the short voyage to and from the Spitzbergen sea, did not much

exceed three months, say, and reckoning 30 men to each of their fleet

of 180 sail, we have 5,400 Low Dutch seamen in all; therefore, I say,

we have precisely two barrels of beer per man, for a twelve weeks'

allowance, exclusive of his fair proportion of that 550 ankers of gin.

Now, whether these gin and beer harpooneers, so fuddled as one might

fancy them to have been, were the right sort of men to stand up in

a boat's head, and take good aim at flying whales; this would seem

somewhat improbable. Yet they did aim at them, and hit them too. But

this was very far North, be it remembered, where beer agrees well with

the constitution; upon the Equator, in our southern fishery, beer would

be apt to make the harpooneer sleepy at the mast-head and boozy in his

boat; and grievous loss might ensue to Nantucket and New Bedford.

But no more; enough has been said to show that the old Dutch whalers

of two or three centuries ago were high livers; and that the English

whalers have not neglected so excellent an example. For, say they, when

cruising in an empty ship, if you can get nothing better out of the

world, get a good dinner out of it, at least. And this empties the


CHAPTER 102. A Bower in the Arsacides.

Hitherto, in descriptively treating of the Sperm Whale, I have chiefly

dwelt upon the marvels of his outer aspect; or separately and in detail

upon some few interior structural features. But to a large and thorough

sweeping comprehension of him, it behooves me now to unbutton him still

further, and untagging the points of his hose, unbuckling his garters,

and casting loose the hooks and the eyes of the joints of his innermost

bones, set him before you in his ultimatum; that is to say, in his

unconditional skeleton.

But how now, Ishmael? How is it, that you, a mere oarsman in the

fishery, pretend to know aught about the subterranean parts of the

whale? Did erudite Stubb, mounted upon your capstan, deliver lectures

on the anatomy of the Cetacea; and by help of the windlass, hold up a

specimen rib for exhibition? Explain thyself, Ishmael. Can you land

a full-grown whale on your deck for examination, as a cook dishes a

roast-pig? Surely not. A veritable witness have you hitherto been,

Ishmael; but have a care how you seize the privilege of Jonah alone;

the privilege of discoursing upon the joists and beams; the rafters,

ridge-pole, sleepers, and under-pinnings, making up the frame-work of

leviathan; and belike of the tallow-vats, dairy-rooms, butteries, and

cheeseries in his bowels.

I confess, that since Jonah, few whalemen have penetrated very far

beneath the skin of the adult whale; nevertheless, I have been blessed

with an opportunity to dissect him in miniature. In a ship I belonged

to, a small cub Sperm Whale was once bodily hoisted to the deck for his

poke or bag, to make sheaths for the barbs of the harpoons, and for the

heads of the lances. Think you I let that chance go, without using my

boat-hatchet and jack-knife, and breaking the seal and reading all the

contents of that young cub?

And as for my exact knowledge of the bones of the leviathan in their

gigantic, full grown development, for that rare knowledge I am indebted

to my late royal friend Tranquo, king of Tranque, one of the Arsacides.

For being at Tranque, years ago, when attached to the trading-ship Dey

of Algiers, I was invited to spend part of the Arsacidean holidays with

the lord of Tranque, at his retired palm villa at Pupella; a sea-side

glen not very far distant from what our sailors called Bamboo-Town, his

Among many other fine qualities, my royal friend Tranquo, being gifted

with a devout love for all matters of barbaric vertu, had brought

together in Pupella whatever rare things the more ingenious of his

people could invent; chiefly carved woods of wonderful devices,

chiselled shells, inlaid spears, costly paddles, aromatic canoes;

and all these distributed among whatever natural wonders, the

wonder-freighted, tribute-rendering waves had cast upon his shores.

Chief among these latter was a great Sperm Whale, which, after an

unusually long raging gale, had been found dead and stranded, with his

head against a cocoa-nut tree, whose plumage-like, tufted droopings

seemed his verdant jet. When the vast body had at last been stripped of

its fathom-deep enfoldings, and the bones become dust dry in the sun,

then the skeleton was carefully transported up the Pupella glen, where a

grand temple of lordly palms now sheltered it.
The ribs were hung with trophies; the vertebrae were carved with

Arsacidean annals, in strange hieroglyphics; in the skull, the priests

kept up an unextinguished aromatic flame, so that the mystic head

again sent forth its vapoury spout; while, suspended from a bough, the

terrific lower jaw vibrated over all the devotees, like the hair-hung

sword that so affrighted Damocles.

It was a wondrous sight. The wood was green as mosses of the Icy

Glen; the trees stood high and haughty, feeling their living sap; the

industrious earth beneath was as a weaver's loom, with a gorgeous carpet

on it, whereof the ground-vine tendrils formed the warp and woof, and

the living flowers the figures. All the trees, with all their laden

branches; all the shrubs, and ferns, and grasses; the message-carrying

air; all these unceasingly were active. Through the lacings of the

leaves, the great sun seemed a flying shuttle weaving the unwearied

verdure. Oh, busy weaver! unseen weaver!--pause!--one word!--whither

flows the fabric? what palace may it deck? wherefore all these ceaseless

toilings? Speak, weaver!--stay thy hand!--but one single word with

thee! Nay--the shuttle flies--the figures float from forth the loom; the

freshet-rushing carpet for ever slides away. The weaver-god, he weaves;

and by that weaving is he deafened, that he hears no mortal voice; and

by that humming, we, too, who look on the loom are deafened; and only

when we escape it shall we hear the thousand voices that speak through

it. For even so it is in all material factories. The spoken words that

are inaudible among the flying spindles; those same words are plainly

heard without the walls, bursting from the opened casements. Thereby

have villainies been detected. Ah, mortal! then, be heedful; for so, in

all this din of the great world's loom, thy subtlest thinkings may be

overheard afar.

Now, amid the green, life-restless loom of that Arsacidean wood, the

great, white, worshipped skeleton lay lounging--a gigantic idler! Yet,

as the ever-woven verdant warp and woof intermixed and hummed around

him, the mighty idler seemed the cunning weaver; himself all woven

over with the vines; every month assuming greener, fresher verdure; but

himself a skeleton. Life folded Death; Death trellised Life; the grim

god wived with youthful Life, and begat him curly-headed glories.
Now, when with royal Tranquo I visited this wondrous whale, and saw the

skull an altar, and the artificial smoke ascending from where the real

jet had issued, I marvelled that the king should regard a chapel as

an object of vertu. He laughed. But more I marvelled that the priests

should swear that smoky jet of his was genuine. To and fro I paced

before this skeleton--brushed the vines aside--broke through the

ribs--and with a ball of Arsacidean twine, wandered, eddied long amid

its many winding, shaded colonnades and arbours. But soon my line was

out; and following it back, I emerged from the opening where I entered.

I saw no living thing within; naught was there but bones.

Cutting me a green measuring-rod, I once more dived within the skeleton.

From their arrow-slit in the skull, the priests perceived me taking the

altitude of the final rib, "How now!" they shouted; "Dar'st thou measure

this our god! That's for us." "Aye, priests--well, how long do ye make

him, then?" But hereupon a fierce contest rose among them, concerning

feet and inches; they cracked each other's sconces with their

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