Part 01 - Moby Dick Audiobook by Herman Melville (Chs 001-009)

Uploaded by CCProse on 22.09.2011

(Supplied by a Late Consumptive Usher to a Grammar School)
The pale Usher--threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now.
He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief,
mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the
He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his
"While you take in hand to school others, and to teach them by what name a whale-fish
is to be called in our tongue leaving out, through ignorance, the letter H, which
almost alone maketh the signification of
the word, you deliver that which is not true."
"WHALE....Sw. and Dan. HVAL. This animal is named from roundness or rolling; 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 a poor devil of a
Sub-Sub appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the
earth, picking up whatever random allusions
to whales he could anyways find in any book whatsoever, sacred or profane.
Therefore you must not, in every case at least, take the higgledy-piggledy whale
statements, however authentic, in these extracts, for veritable gospel cetology.
Far from it.
As touching the ancient authors generally, as well as the poets here appearing, these
extracts are solely valuable or entertaining, as affording a glancing
bird's eye view of what has been
promiscuously said, thought, fancied, and sung of Leviathan, by many nations and
generations, including our own. So fare thee well, poor devil of a Sub-Sub,
whose commentator I am.
Thou belongest to that hopeless, sallow tribe which no wine of this world will ever
warm; and for whom even Pale Sherry would be too rosy-strong; but with whom one
sometimes loves to sit, and feel poor-
devilish, too; and grow convivial upon tears; and say to them bluntly, with full
eyes and empty glasses, and in not altogether unpleasant sadness--Give it up,
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 could clear out Hampton Court
and the Tuileries for ye!
But gulp down your tears and hie aloft to the royal-mast with your hearts; for your
friends who have gone before are clearing out the seven-storied heavens, and making
refugees of long-pampered Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, against your coming.
Here ye strike but splintered hearts together--there, ye shall strike
unsplinterable glasses!
EXTRACTS. "And God created great whales."
"Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him; One would think the deep to be hoary."
"Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah."
"There go the ships; there is that Leviathan whom thou hast made to play
therein." --PSALMS.
"In that day, the Lord with his sore, and great, and strong sword, shall punish
Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he
shall slay the dragon that is in the sea."
"And what thing soever besides cometh within the chaos of this monster's mouth,
be it beast, boat, or stone, down it goes all incontinently that foul great swallow
of his, and perisheth in the bottomless gulf of his paunch."
"The Indian Sea breedeth the most and the biggest fishes that are: among which the
Whales and Whirlpooles called Balaene, take up as much in length as four acres or
arpens of land."
"Scarcely had we proceeded two days on the sea, when about sunrise a great many Whales
and other monsters of the sea, appeared. Among the former, one was of a most
monstrous size....
This came towards us, open-mouthed, raising the waves on all sides, and beating the sea
before him into a foam." --TOOKE'S LUCIAN.
"He visited this country also with a view of catching horse-whales, which had bones
of very great value for their teeth, of which he brought some to the king....
The best whales were catched in his own country, of which some were forty-eight,
some fifty yards long. He said that he was one of six who had
killed sixty in two days."
"And whereas all the other things, whether beast or vessel, that enter into the
dreadful gulf of this monster's (whale's) mouth, are immediately lost and swallowed
up, the sea-gudgeon retires into it in great security, and there sleeps."
"Let us fly, let us fly! Old Nick take me if is not Leviathan
described by the noble prophet Moses in the life of patient Job."
"This whale's liver was two cartloads." --STOWE'S ANNALS.
"The great Leviathan that maketh the seas to seethe like boiling pan."
"Touching that monstrous bulk of the whale or ork we have received nothing certain.
They grow exceeding fat, insomuch that an incredible quantity of oil will be
extracted out of one whale."
"The sovereignest thing on earth is parmacetti for an inward bruise."
"Very like a whale." --HAMLET.
"Which to secure, no skill of leach's art Mote him availle, but to returne againe
To his wound's worker, that with lowly dart
Dinting his breast, had bred his restless paine,
Like as the wounded whale to shore flies thro' the maine."
"Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies can in a peaceful calm trouble
the ocean til it boil." --SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT.
"What spermacetti is, men might justly doubt, since the learned Hosmannus in his
work of thirty years, saith plainly, Nescio quid sit."
"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."
"By art is created that great Leviathan, called a Commonwealth or State--(in Latin,
Civitas) which is but an artificial man." --OPENING SENTENCE OF HOBBES'S LEVIATHAN.
"Silly Mansoul swallowed it without chewing, as if it had been a sprat in the
mouth of a whale." --PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.
"That sea beast Leviathan, which God of all his works Created hugest that swim the
ocean stream." --PARADISE LOST.
---"There Leviathan, Hugest of living 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."
"The mighty whales which swim in a sea of water, and have a sea of oil swimming in
"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 his head, and tow
it with a boat as near the shore as it will come; but it will be aground in twelve or
thirteen feet water."
"In their way they saw many whales sporting in the ocean, and in wantonness fuzzing up
the water through their pipes and vents, which nature has placed on their
"Here they saw such huge troops of whales, that they were forced to proceed with a
great deal of caution for fear they should run their ship upon them."
"We set sail from the Elbe, wind N.E. in the ship called The Jonas-in-the-Whale....
Some say the whale can't open his mouth, but that is a fable....
They frequently climb up the masts to see whether they can see a whale, for the first
discoverer has a ducat for his pains....
I was told of a whale taken near Shetland, that had above a barrel of herrings in his
One of our harpooneers told me that he caught once a whale in Spitzbergen that was
white all over." --A VOYAGE TO GREENLAND, A.D. 1671 HARRIS
"Several whales have come in upon this coast (Fife) Anno 1652, one eighty feet in
length of the whale-bone kind came in, which (as I was informed), besides a vast
quantity of oil, did afford 500 weight of baleen.
The jaws of it stand for a gate in the garden of Pitferren."
"Myself have agreed to try whether I can master and kill this Sperma-ceti whale, for
I could never hear of any of that sort that was killed by any man, such is his
fierceness and swiftness."
"Whales in the sea God's voice obey." --N. E. PRIMER.
"We saw also abundance of large whales, there being more in those southern seas, as
I may say, by a hundred to one; than we have to the northward of us."
"... and the breath of the whale is frequently attended with such an
insupportable smell, as to bring on a disorder of the brain."
"To fifty chosen sylphs of special note,
We trust the important charge, the petticoat.
Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail,
Tho' stuffed with hoops and armed with ribs of whale."
"If we compare land animals in respect to magnitude, with those that take up their
abode in the deep, we shall find they will appear contemptible in the comparison.
The whale is doubtless the largest animal in creation."
"If you should write a fable for little fishes, you would make them speak like
great wales." --GOLDSMITH TO JOHNSON.
"In the afternoon we saw what was supposed to be a rock, but it was found to be a dead
whale, which some Asiatics had killed, and were then towing ashore.
They seemed to endeavor to conceal themselves behind the whale, in order to
avoid being seen by us." --COOK'S VOYAGES.
"The larger whales, they seldom venture to attack.
They stand in so great dread of some of them, that when out at sea they are afraid
to mention even their names, and carry dung, lime-stone, juniper-wood, and some
other articles of the same nature in their
boats, in order to terrify and prevent their too near approach."
"The Spermacetti Whale found by the Nantuckois, is an active, fierce animal,
and requires vast address and boldness in the fishermen."
"And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it?"
"Spain--a great whale stranded on the shores of Europe."
"A tenth branch of the king's ordinary revenue, said to be grounded on the
consideration of his guarding and protecting the seas from pirates and
robbers, is the right to royal fish, which are whale and sturgeon.
And these, when either thrown ashore or caught near the coast, are the property of
the king."
"Soon to the sport of death the crews repair:
Rodmond unerring o'er his head suspends The barbed steel, and every turn attends."
"Bright shone the roofs, the domes, the spires,
And rockets blew self driven, To hang their momentary fire
Around the vault of heaven.
"So fire with water to compare, The ocean serves on high,
Up-spouted by a whale in air, To express unwieldy joy."
"Ten or fifteen gallons of blood are thrown out of the heart at a stroke, with immense
"The aorta of a whale is larger in the bore than the main pipe of the water-works at
London Bridge, and the water roaring in its passage through that pipe is inferior in
impetus and velocity to the blood gushing from the whale's heart."
"The whale is a mammiferous animal without hind feet."
"In 40 degrees south, we saw Spermacetti Whales, but did not take any till the first
of May, the sea being then covered with them."
"In the free element beneath me swam, Floundered and dived,
in play, in chace, in battle, Fishes of every colour, form, and kind;
Which language cannot paint, and mariner Had never seen; from dread Leviathan
To insect millions peopling every wave:
Gather'd in shoals immense, like floating islands,
Led by mysterious instincts through that waste
And trackless region, though on every side Assaulted by voracious enemies,
Whales, sharks, and monsters, arm'd in front or jaw,
With swords, saws, spiral horns, or hooked fangs."
"Io! Paean! Io! sing. To the finny people's king.
Not a mightier whale than this In the vast Atlantic is;
Not a fatter fish than he, Flounders round the Polar Sea."
"In the year 1690 some persons were on a high hill observing the whales spouting and
sporting with each other, when one observed: there--pointing to the sea--is a
green pasture where our children's grand- children will go for bread."
"I built a cottage for Susan and myself and made a gateway in the form of a Gothic
Arch, by setting up a whale's jaw bones." --HAWTHORNE'S TWICE TOLD TALES.
"She came to bespeak a monument for her first love, who had been killed by a whale
in the Pacific ocean, no less than forty years ago."
"No, Sir, 'tis a Right Whale," answered Tom; "I saw his sprout; he threw up a pair
of as pretty rainbows as a Christian would wish to look at.
He's a raal oil-butt, that fellow!"
"The papers were brought in, and we saw in the Berlin Gazette that whales had been
introduced on the stage there." --ECKERMANN'S CONVERSATIONS WITH GOETHE.
"My God! Mr. Chace, what is the matter?" I answered, "we have been stove by a
NEW YORK, 1821.
"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."
"The quantity of line withdrawn from the boats engaged in the capture of this one
whale, amounted altogether to 10,440 yards or nearly six English miles....
"Sometimes the whale shakes its tremendous tail in the air, which, cracking like a
whip, resounds to the distance of three or four miles."
"Mad with the agonies he endures from these fresh attacks, the infuriated Sperm Whale
rolls over and over; he rears his enormous head, and with wide expanded jaws snaps at
everything around him; he rushes at the
boats with his head; they are propelled before him with vast swiftness, and
sometimes utterly destroyed....
It is a matter of great astonishment that the consideration of the habits of so
interesting, and, in a commercial point of view, so important an animal (as the Sperm
Whale) should have been so entirely
neglected, or should have excited so little curiosity among the numerous, and many of
them competent observers, that of late years, must have possessed the most
abundant and the most convenient
opportunities of witnessing their habitudes."
"The Cachalot" (Sperm Whale) "is not only better armed than the True Whale"
(Greenland or Right Whale) "in possessing a formidable weapon at either extremity of
its body, but also more frequently displays
a disposition to employ these weapons offensively and in manner at once so
artful, bold, and mischievous, as to lead to its being regarded as the most dangerous
to attack of all the known species of the whale tribe."
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."
"The Whale-ship Globe, on board of which vessel occurred the horrid transactions we
are about to relate, belonged to the island of Nantucket."
Being once pursued by a whale which he had wounded, he parried the assault for some
time with a lance; but the furious monster at length rushed on the boat; himself and
comrades only being preserved by leaping
into the water when they saw the onset was inevitable."
"Nantucket itself," said Mr. Webster, "is a very striking and peculiar portion of the
National interest.
There is a population of eight or nine thousand persons living here in the sea,
adding largely every year to the National wealth by the boldest and most persevering
"The whale fell directly over him, and probably killed him in a moment."
"If you make the least damn bit of noise," replied Samuel, "I will send you to hell."
"The voyages of the Dutch and English to the Northern Ocean, in order, if possible,
to discover a passage through it to India, though they failed of their main object,
laid-open the haunts of the whale."
"These things are reciprocal; the ball rebounds, only to bound forward again; for
now in laying open the haunts of the whale, the whalemen seem to have indirectly hit
upon new clews to that same mystic North- West Passage."
"It is impossible to meet a whale-ship on the ocean without being struck by her near
The vessel under short sail, with look-outs at the mast-heads, eagerly scanning the
wide expanse around them, has a totally different air from those engaged in regular
"Pedestrians in the vicinity of London and elsewhere may recollect having seen large
curved bones set upright in the earth, either to form arches over gateways, or
entrances to alcoves, and they may perhaps
have been told that these were the ribs of whales."
"It was not till the boats returned from the pursuit of these whales, that the
whites saw their ship in bloody possession of the savages enrolled among the crew."
"It is generally well known that out of the crews of Whaling vessels (American) few
ever return in the ships on board of which they departed."
"Suddenly a mighty mass emerged from the water, and shot up perpendicularly into the
air. It was the while."
"The Whale is harpooned to be sure; but bethink you, how you would manage a
powerful unbroken colt, with the mere appliance of a rope tied to the root of his
"On one occasion I saw two of these monsters (whales) probably male and female,
slowly swimming, one after the other, within less than a stone's throw of the
shore" (Terra Del Fuego), "over which the beech tree extended its branches."
"'Stern all!' exclaimed the mate, as upon turning his head, he saw the distended jaws
of a large Sperm Whale close to the head of the boat, threatening it with instant
destruction;--'Stern all, for your lives!'"
"So be cheery, my lads, let your hearts never fail, While the bold harpooneer is
striking the whale!" --NANTUCKET SONG.
"Oh, the rare old Whale, mid storm and gale In his ocean home will be
A giant in might, where might is right, And King of the boundless sea."
-Chapter 1. Loomings.
Call me Ishmael.
Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my
purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a
little and see the watery part of the world.
It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly
November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin
warehouses, and bringing up the rear of
every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of
me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately
stepping into the street, and methodically
knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I
can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.
With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to
the ship. There is nothing surprising in this.
If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish
very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as
Indian isles by coral reefs--commerce surrounds it with her surf.
Right and left, the streets take you waterward.
Its extreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and
cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land.
Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.
Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon.
Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward.
What do you see?--Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand
thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries.
Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking
over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving
to get a still better seaward peep.
But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster--tied to
counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks.
How then is this?
Are the green fields gone? What do they here?
But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound
for a dive.
Strange! Nothing will content them but the extremest
limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not
No. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in.
And there they stand--miles of them-- leagues.
Inlanders all, they come from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues--north, east,
south, and west. Yet here they all unite.
Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships
attract them thither? Once more.
Say you are in the country; in some high land of lakes.
Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and
leaves you there by a pool in the stream.
There is magic in it.
Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries--stand that
man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if
water there be in all that region.
Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if
your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor.
Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.
But here is an artist.
He desires to paint you the dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of
romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco.
What is the chief element he employs?
There stand his trees, each with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix were
within; and here sleeps his meadow, and there sleep his cattle; and up from yonder
cottage goes a sleepy smoke.
Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way, reaching to overlapping spurs of
mountains bathed in their hill-side blue.
But though the picture lies thus tranced, and though this pine-tree shakes down its
sighs like leaves upon this shepherd's head, yet all were vain, unless the
shepherd's eye were fixed upon the magic stream before him.
Go visit the Prairies in June, when for scores on scores of miles you wade knee-
deep among Tiger-lilies--what is the one charm wanting?--Water--there is not a drop
of water there!
Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand miles to see it?
Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver,
deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a
pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach?
Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time
or other crazy to go to sea?
Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical
vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land?
Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy?
Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove?
Surely all this is not without meaning.
And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not
grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was
But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans.
It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.
Now, when I say that I am in the habit of going to sea whenever I begin to grow hazy
about the eyes, and begin to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean to
have it inferred that I ever go to sea as a passenger.
For to go as a passenger you must needs have a purse, and a purse is but a rag
unless you have something in it.
Besides, passengers get sea-sick--grow quarrelsome--don't sleep of nights--do not
enjoy themselves much, as a general thing;- -no, I never go as a passenger; nor, though
I am something of a salt, do I ever go to
sea as a Commodore, or a Captain, or a Cook.
I abandon the glory and distinction of such offices to those who like them.
For my part, I abominate all honourable respectable toils, trials, and tribulations
of every kind whatsoever.
It is quite as much as I can do to take care of myself, without taking care of
ships, barques, brigs, schooners, and what not.
And as for going as cook,--though I confess there is considerable glory in that, a cook
being a sort of officer on ship-board--yet, somehow, I never fancied broiling fowls;--
though once broiled, judiciously buttered,
and judgmatically salted and peppered, there is no one who will speak more
respectfully, not to say reverentially, of a broiled fowl than I will.
It is out of the idolatrous dotings of the old Egyptians upon broiled ibis and roasted
river horse, that you see the mummies of those creatures in their huge bake-houses
the pyramids.
No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right before the mast, plumb down
into the forecastle, aloft there to the royal mast-head.
True, they rather order me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a
grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of thing is
unpleasant enough.
It touches one's sense of honour, particularly if you come of an old
established family in the land, the Van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or Hardicanutes.
And more than all, if just previous to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you
have been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand
in awe of you.
The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and
requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear
But even this wears off in time. What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-
captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks?
What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New
Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly
and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance?
Who ain't a slave?
Tell me that.
Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about--however they may thump
and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that
everybody else is one way or other served
in much the same way--either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and
so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-
blades, and be content.
Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for
my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard
On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay.
And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid.
The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two
orchard thieves entailed upon us. But BEING PAID,--what will compare with it?
The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous,
considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills,
and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven.
Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!
Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the wholesome exercise and pure
air of the fore-castle deck.
For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that
is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the Commodore
on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at
second hand from the sailors on the forecastle.
He thinks he breathes it first; but not so.
In much the same way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at the
same time that the leaders little suspect it.
But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant
sailor, I should now take it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the
invisible police officer of the Fates, who
has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some
unaccountable way--he can better answer than any one else.
And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme
of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago.
It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances.
I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this:
Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put
me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down for
magnificent parts in high tragedies, and
short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces--though I cannot
tell why this was exactly; yet, now that I recall all the circumstances, I think I can
see a little into the springs and motives
which being cunningly presented to me under various disguises, induced me to set about
performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the delusion that it was a choice
resulting from my own unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment.
Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great whale
Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity.
Then the wild and distant seas where he rolled his island bulk; the undeliverable,
nameless perils of the whale; these, with all the attending marvels of a thousand
Patagonian sights and sounds, helped to sway me to my wish.
With other men, perhaps, such things would not have been inducements; but as for me,
I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote.
I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.
Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could still be
social with it--would they let me--since it is but well to be on friendly terms with
all the inmates of the place one lodges in.
By reason of these things, then, the whaling voyage was welcome; the great
flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to
my purpose, two and two there floated into
my inmost soul, endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of them all, one grand
hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air.
Chapter 2. The Carpet-Bag.
I stuffed a shirt or two into my old carpet-bag, tucked it under my arm, and
started for Cape Horn and the Pacific. Quitting the good city of old Manhatto, I
duly arrived in New Bedford.
It was a Saturday night in December.
Much was I disappointed upon learning that the little packet for Nantucket had already
sailed, and that no way of reaching that place would offer, till the following
As most young candidates for the pains and penalties of whaling stop at this same New
Bedford, thence to embark on their voyage, it may as well be related that I, for one,
had no idea of so doing.
For my mind was made up to sail in no other than a Nantucket craft, because there was a
fine, boisterous something about everything connected with that famous old island,
which amazingly pleased me.
Besides though New Bedford has of late been gradually monopolising the business of
whaling, and though in this matter poor old Nantucket is now much behind her, yet
Nantucket was her great original--the Tyre
of this Carthage;--the place where the first dead American whale was stranded.
Where else but from Nantucket did those aboriginal whalemen, the Red-Men, first
sally out in canoes to give chase to the Leviathan?
And where but from Nantucket, too, did that first adventurous little sloop put forth,
partly laden with imported cobblestones--so goes the story--to throw at the whales, in
order to discover when they were nigh enough to risk a harpoon from the bowsprit?
Now having a night, a day, and still another night following before me in New
Bedford, ere I could embark for my destined port, it became a matter of concernment
where I was to eat and sleep meanwhile.
It was a very dubious-looking, nay, a very dark and dismal night, bitingly cold and
cheerless. I knew no one in the place.
With anxious grapnels I had sounded my pocket, and only brought up a few pieces of
silver,--So, wherever you go, Ishmael, said I to myself, as I stood in the middle of a
dreary street shouldering my bag, and
comparing the gloom towards the north with the darkness towards the south--wherever in
your wisdom you may conclude to lodge for the night, my dear Ishmael, be sure to
inquire the price, and don't be too particular.
With halting steps I paced the streets, and passed the sign of "The Crossed Harpoons"--
but it looked too expensive and jolly there.
Further on, from the bright red windows of the "Sword-Fish Inn," there came such
fervent rays, that it seemed to have melted the packed snow and ice from before the
house, for everywhere else the congealed
frost lay ten inches thick in a hard, asphaltic pavement,--rather weary for me,
when I struck my foot against the flinty projections, because from hard, remorseless
service the soles of my boots were in a most miserable plight.
Too expensive and jolly, again thought I, pausing one moment to watch the broad glare
in the street, and hear the sounds of the tinkling glasses within.
But go on, Ishmael, said I at last; don't you hear? get away from before the door;
your patched boots are stopping the way. So on I went.
I now by instinct followed the streets that took me waterward, for there, doubtless,
were the cheapest, if not the cheeriest inns.
Such dreary streets! blocks of blackness, not houses, on either hand, and here and
there a candle, like a candle moving about in a tomb.
At this hour of the night, of the last day of the week, that quarter of the town
proved all but deserted.
But presently I came to a smoky light proceeding from a low, wide building, the
door of which stood invitingly open.
It had a careless look, as if it were meant for the uses of the public; so, entering,
the first thing I did was to stumble over an ash-box in the porch.
Ha! thought I, ha, as the flying particles almost choked me, are these ashes from that
destroyed city, Gomorrah?
But "The Crossed Harpoons," and "The Sword- Fish?"--this, then must needs be the sign
of "The Trap."
However, I picked myself up and hearing a loud voice within, pushed on and opened a
second, interior door. It seemed the great Black Parliament
sitting in Tophet.
A hundred black faces turned round in their rows to peer; and beyond, a black Angel of
Doom was beating a book in a pulpit.
It was a negro church; and the preacher's text was about the blackness of darkness,
and the weeping and wailing and teeth- gnashing there.
Ha, Ishmael, muttered I, backing out, Wretched entertainment at the sign of 'The
Moving on, I at last came to a dim sort of light not far from the docks, and heard a
forlorn creaking in the air; and looking up, saw a swinging sign over the door with
a white painting upon it, faintly
representing a tall straight jet of misty spray, and these words underneath--"The
Spouter Inn:--Peter Coffin." Coffin?--Spouter?--Rather ominous in that
particular connexion, thought I.
But it is a common name in Nantucket, they say, and I suppose this Peter here is an
emigrant from there.
As the light looked so dim, and the place, for the time, looked quiet enough, and the
dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might have been carted here
from the ruins of some burnt district, and
as the swinging sign had a poverty-stricken sort of creak to it, I thought that here
was the very spot for cheap lodgings, and the best of pea coffee.
It was a queer sort of place--a gable-ended old house, one side palsied as it were, and
leaning over sadly.
It stood on a sharp bleak corner, where that tempestuous wind Euroclydon kept up a
worse howling than ever it did about poor Paul's tossed craft.
Euroclydon, nevertheless, is a mighty pleasant zephyr to any one in-doors, with
his feet on the hob quietly toasting for bed.
"In judging of that tempestuous wind called Euroclydon," says an old writer--of whose
works I possess the only copy extant--"it maketh a marvellous difference, whether
thou lookest out at it from a glass window
where the frost is all on the outside, or whether thou observest it from that
sashless window, where the frost is on both sides, and of which the wight Death is the
only glazier."
True enough, thought I, as this passage occurred to my mind--old black-letter, thou
reasonest well. Yes, these eyes are windows, and this body
of mine is the house.
What a pity they didn't stop up the chinks and the crannies though, and thrust in a
little lint here and there. But it's too late to make any improvements
The universe is finished; the copestone is on, and the chips were carted off a million
years ago.
Poor Lazarus there, chattering his teeth against the curbstone for his pillow, and
shaking off his tatters with his shiverings, he might plug up both ears with
rags, and put a corn-cob into his mouth,
and yet that would not keep out the tempestuous Euroclydon.
Euroclydon! says old Dives, in his red silken wrapper--(he had a redder one
afterwards) pooh, pooh!
What a fine frosty night; how Orion glitters; what northern lights!
Let them talk of their oriental summer climes of everlasting conservatories; give
me the privilege of making my own summer with my own coals.
But what thinks Lazarus?
Can he warm his blue hands by holding them up to the grand northern lights?
Would not Lazarus rather be in Sumatra than here?
Would he not far rather lay him down lengthwise along the line of the equator;
yea, ye gods! go down to the fiery pit itself, in order to keep out this frost?
Now, that Lazarus should lie stranded there on the curbstone before the door of Dives,
this is more wonderful than that an iceberg should be moored to one of the Moluccas.
Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar in an ice palace made of frozen sighs, and
being a president of a temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of orphans.
But no more of this blubbering now, we are going a-whaling, and there is plenty of
that yet to come.
Let us scrape the ice from our frosted feet, and see what sort of a place this
"Spouter" may be.
-Chapter 3. The Spouter-Inn.
Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found yourself in a wide, low, straggling
entry with old-fashioned wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of some
condemned old craft.
On one side hung a very large oilpainting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way
defaced, that in the unequal crosslights by which you viewed it, it was only by
diligent study and a series of systematic
visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors, that you could any way arrive at
an understanding of its purpose.
Such unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, that at first you almost thought
some ambitious young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had endeavored to
delineate chaos bewitched.
But by dint of much and earnest contemplation, and oft repeated ponderings,
and especially by throwing open the little window towards the back of the entry, you
at last come to the conclusion that such an
idea, however wild, might not be altogether unwarranted.
But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass
of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular
lines floating in a nameless yeast.
A boggy, soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous man distracted.
Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half- attained, unimaginable sublimity about it
that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to
find out what that marvellous painting meant.
Ever and anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would dart you through.--
It's the Black Sea in a midnight gale.-- It's the unnatural combat of the four
primal elements.--It's a blasted heath.--
It's a Hyperborean winter scene.--It's the breaking-up of the icebound stream of Time.
But at last all these fancies yielded to that one portentous something in the
picture's midst.
THAT once found out, and all the rest were plain.
But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance to a gigantic fish? even the
great leviathan himself?
In fact, the artist's design seemed this: a final theory of my own, partly based upon
the aggregated opinions of many aged persons with whom I conversed upon the
The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great hurricane; the half-foundered ship
weltering there with its three dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated
whale, purposing to spring clean over the
craft, is in the enormous act of impaling himself upon the three mast-heads.
The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a heathenish array of
monstrous clubs and spears.
Some were thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws; others were tufted
with knots of human hair; and one was sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping
round like the segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed mower.
You shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what monstrous cannibal and savage could
ever have gone a death-harvesting with such a hacking, horrifying implement.
Mixed with these were rusty old whaling lances and harpoons all broken and
deformed. Some were storied weapons.
With this once long lance, now wildly elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain
kill fifteen whales between a sunrise and a sunset.
And that harpoon--so like a corkscrew now-- was flung in Javan seas, and run away with
by a whale, years afterwards slain off the Cape of Blanco.
The original iron entered nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in
the body of a man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found imbedded in the
Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low-arched way--cut through what in old
times must have been a great central chimney with fireplaces all round--you
enter the public room.
A still duskier place is this, with such low ponderous beams above, and such old
wrinkled planks beneath, that you would almost fancy you trod some old craft's
cockpits, especially of such a howling
night, when this corner-anchored old ark rocked so furiously.
On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like table covered with cracked glass cases,
filled with dusty rarities gathered from this wide world's remotest nooks.
Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a dark-looking den--the bar--a
rude attempt at a right whale's head.
Be that how it may, there stands the vast arched bone of the whale's jaw, so wide, a
coach might almost drive beneath it.
Within are shabby shelves, ranged round with old decanters, bottles, flasks; and in
those jaws of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah (by which name indeed
they called him), bustles a little withered
old man, who, for their money, dearly sells the sailors deliriums and death.
Abominable are the tumblers into which he pours his poison.
Though true cylinders without--within, the villanous green goggling glasses
deceitfully tapered downwards to a cheating bottom.
Parallel meridians rudely pecked into the glass, surround these footpads' goblets.
Fill to THIS mark, and your charge is but a penny; to THIS a penny more; and so on to
the full glass--the Cape Horn measure, which you may gulp down for a shilling.
Upon entering the place I found a number of young seamen gathered about a table,
examining by a dim light divers specimens of SKRIMSHANDER.
I sought the landlord, and telling him I desired to be accommodated with a room,
received for answer that his house was full--not a bed unoccupied.
"But avast," he added, tapping his forehead, "you haint no objections to
sharing a harpooneer's blanket, have ye? I s'pose you are goin' a-whalin', so you'd
better get used to that sort of thing."
I told him that I never liked to sleep two in a bed; that if I should ever do so, it
would depend upon who the harpooneer might be, and that if he (the landlord) really
had no other place for me, and the
harpooneer was not decidedly objectionable, why rather than wander further about a
strange town on so bitter a night, I would put up with the half of any decent man's
"I thought so. All right; take a seat.
Supper?--you want supper? Supper'll be ready directly."
I sat down on an old wooden settle, carved all over like a bench on the Battery.
At one end a ruminating tar was still further adorning it with his jack-knife,
stooping over and diligently working away at the space between his legs.
He was trying his hand at a ship under full sail, but he didn't make much headway, I
thought. At last some four or five of us were
summoned to our meal in an adjoining room.
It was cold as Iceland--no fire at all--the landlord said he couldn't afford it.
Nothing but two dismal tallow candles, each in a winding sheet.
We were fain to button up our monkey jackets, and hold to our lips cups of
scalding tea with our half frozen fingers.
But the fare was of the most substantial kind--not only meat and potatoes, but
dumplings; good heavens! dumplings for supper!
One young fellow in a green box coat, addressed himself to these dumplings in a
most direful manner. "My boy," said the landlord, "you'll have
the nightmare to a dead sartainty."
"Landlord," I whispered, "that aint the harpooneer is it?"
"Oh, no," said he, looking a sort of diabolically funny, "the harpooneer is a
dark complexioned chap.
He never eats dumplings, he don't--he eats nothing but steaks, and he likes 'em rare."
"The devil he does," says I. "Where is that harpooneer?
Is he here?"
"He'll be here afore long," was the answer. I could not help it, but I began to feel
suspicious of this "dark complexioned" harpooneer.
At any rate, I made up my mind that if it so turned out that we should sleep
together, he must undress and get into bed before I did.
Supper over, the company went back to the bar-room, when, knowing not what else to do
with myself, I resolved to spend the rest of the evening as a looker on.
Presently a rioting noise was heard without.
Starting up, the landlord cried, "That's the Grampus's crew.
I seed her reported in the offing this morning; a three years' voyage, and a full
ship. Hurrah, boys; now we'll have the latest
news from the Feegees."
A tramping of sea boots was heard in the entry; the door was flung open, and in
rolled a wild set of mariners enough.
Enveloped in their shaggy watch coats, and with their heads muffled in woollen
comforters, all bedarned and ragged, and their beards stiff with icicles, they
seemed an eruption of bears from Labrador.
They had just landed from their boat, and this was the first house they entered.
No wonder, then, that they made a straight wake for the whale's mouth--the bar--when
the wrinkled little old Jonah, there officiating, soon poured them out brimmers
all round.
One complained of a bad cold in his head, upon which Jonah mixed him a pitch-like
potion of gin and molasses, which he swore was a sovereign cure for all colds and
catarrhs whatsoever, never mind of how long
standing, or whether caught off the coast of Labrador, or on the weather side of an
The liquor soon mounted into their heads, as it generally does even with the
arrantest topers newly landed from sea, and they began capering about most
I observed, however, that one of them held somewhat aloof, and though he seemed
desirous not to spoil the hilarity of his shipmates by his own sober face, yet upon
the whole he refrained from making as much noise as the rest.
This man interested me at once; and since the sea-gods had ordained that he should
soon become my shipmate (though but a sleeping-partner one, so far as this
narrative is concerned), I will here venture upon a little description of him.
He stood full six feet in height, with noble shoulders, and a chest like a coffer-
I have seldom seen such brawn in a man.
His face was deeply brown and burnt, making his white teeth dazzling by the contrast;
while in the deep shadows of his eyes floated some reminiscences that did not
seem to give him much joy.
His voice at once announced that he was a Southerner, and from his fine stature, I
thought he must be one of those tall mountaineers from the Alleghanian Ridge in
When the revelry of his companions had mounted to its height, this man slipped
away unobserved, and I saw no more of him till he became my comrade on the sea.
In a few minutes, however, he was missed by his shipmates, and being, it seems, for
some reason a huge favourite with them, they raised a cry of "Bulkington!
Bulkington! where's Bulkington?" and darted out of the house in pursuit of him.
It was now about nine o'clock, and the room seeming almost supernaturally quiet after
these orgies, I began to congratulate myself upon a little plan that had occurred
to me just previous to the entrance of the seamen.
No man prefers to sleep two in a bed. In fact, you would a good deal rather not
sleep with your own brother.
I don't know how it is, but people like to be private when they are sleeping.
And when it comes to sleeping with an unknown stranger, in a strange inn, in a
strange town, and that stranger a harpooneer, then your objections
indefinitely multiply.
Nor was there any earthly reason why I as a sailor should sleep two in a bed, more than
anybody else; for sailors no more sleep two in a bed at sea, than bachelor Kings do
To be sure they all sleep together in one apartment, but you have your own hammock,
and cover yourself with your own blanket, and sleep in your own skin.
The more I pondered over this harpooneer, the more I abominated the thought of
sleeping with him.
It was fair to presume that being a harpooneer, his linen or woollen, as the
case might be, would not be of the tidiest, certainly none of the finest.
I began to twitch all over.
Besides, it was getting late, and my decent harpooneer ought to be home and going
Suppose now, he should tumble in upon me at midnight--how could I tell from what vile
hole he had been coming? "Landlord!
I've changed my mind about that harpooneer.--I shan't sleep with him.
I'll try the bench here."
"Just as you please; I'm sorry I cant spare ye a tablecloth for a mattress, and it's a
plaguy rough board here"--feeling of the knots and notches.
"But wait a bit, Skrimshander; I've got a carpenter's plane there in the bar--wait,
I say, and I'll make ye snug enough."
So saying he procured the plane; and with his old silk handkerchief first dusting the
bench, vigorously set to planing away at my bed, the while grinning like an ape.
The shavings flew right and left; till at last the plane-iron came bump against an
indestructible knot.
The landlord was near spraining his wrist, and I told him for heaven's sake to quit--
the bed was soft enough to suit me, and I did not know how all the planing in the
world could make eider down of a pine plank.
So gathering up the shavings with another grin, and throwing them into the great
stove in the middle of the room, he went about his business, and left me in a brown
I now took the measure of the bench, and found that it was a foot too short; but
that could be mended with a chair.
But it was a foot too narrow, and the other bench in the room was about four inches
higher than the planed one--so there was no yoking them.
I then placed the first bench lengthwise along the only clear space against the
wall, leaving a little interval between, for my back to settle down in.
But I soon found that there came such a draught of cold air over me from under the
sill of the window, that this plan would never do at all, especially as another
current from the rickety door met the one
from the window, and both together formed a series of small whirlwinds in the immediate
vicinity of the spot where I had thought to spend the night.
The devil fetch that harpooneer, thought I, but stop, couldn't I steal a march on him--
bolt his door inside, and jump into his bed, not to be wakened by the most violent
It seemed no bad idea; but upon second thoughts I dismissed it.
For who could tell but what the next morning, so soon as I popped out of the
room, the harpooneer might be standing in the entry, all ready to knock me down!
Still, looking round me again, and seeing no possible chance of spending a sufferable
night unless in some other person's bed, I began to think that after all I might be
cherishing unwarrantable prejudices against this unknown harpooneer.
Thinks I, I'll wait awhile; he must be dropping in before long.
I'll have a good look at him then, and perhaps we may become jolly good bedfellows
after all--there's no telling.
But though the other boarders kept coming in by ones, twos, and threes, and going to
bed, yet no sign of my harpooneer. "Landlord!" said I, "what sort of a chap is
he--does he always keep such late hours?"
It was now hard upon twelve o'clock. The landlord chuckled again with his lean
chuckle, and seemed to be mightily tickled at something beyond my comprehension.
"No," he answered, "generally he's an early bird--airley to bed and airley to rise--
yes, he's the bird what catches the worm.
But to-night he went out a peddling, you see, and I don't see what on airth keeps
him so late, unless, may be, he can't sell his head."
"Can't sell his head?--What sort of a bamboozingly story is this you are telling
me?" getting into a towering rage.
"Do you pretend to say, landlord, that this harpooneer is actually engaged this blessed
Saturday night, or rather Sunday morning, in peddling his head around this town?"
"That's precisely it," said the landlord, "and I told him he couldn't sell it here,
the market's overstocked." "With what?" shouted I.
"With heads to be sure; ain't there too many heads in the world?"
"I tell you what it is, landlord," said I quite calmly, "you'd better stop spinning
that yarn to me--I'm not green."
"May be not," taking out a stick and whittling a toothpick, "but I rayther guess
you'll be done BROWN if that ere harpooneer hears you a slanderin' his head."
"I'll break it for him," said I, now flying into a passion again at this unaccountable
farrago of the landlord's. "It's broke a'ready," said he.
"Broke," said I--"BROKE, do you mean?"
"Sartain, and that's the very reason he can't sell it, I guess."
"Landlord," said I, going up to him as cool as Mt. Hecla in a snow-storm--"landlord,
stop whittling.
You and I must understand one another, and that too without delay.
I come to your house and want a bed; you tell me you can only give me half a one;
that the other half belongs to a certain harpooneer.
And about this harpooneer, whom I have not yet seen, you persist in telling me the
most mystifying and exasperating stories tending to beget in me an uncomfortable
feeling towards the man whom you design for
my bedfellow--a sort of connexion, landlord, which is an intimate and
confidential one in the highest degree.
I now demand of you to speak out and tell me who and what this harpooneer is, and
whether I shall be in all respects safe to spend the night with him.
And in the first place, you will be so good as to unsay that story about selling his
head, which if true I take to be good evidence that this harpooneer is stark mad,
and I've no idea of sleeping with a madman;
and you, sir, YOU I mean, landlord, YOU, sir, by trying to induce me to do so
knowingly, would thereby render yourself liable to a criminal prosecution."
"Wall," said the landlord, fetching a long breath, "that's a purty long sarmon for a
chap that rips a little now and then.
But be easy, be easy, this here harpooneer I have been tellin' you of has just arrived
from the south seas, where he bought up a lot of 'balmed New Zealand heads (great
curios, you know), and he's sold all on 'em
but one, and that one he's trying to sell to-night, cause to-morrow's Sunday, and it
would not do to be sellin' human heads about the streets when folks is goin' to
He wanted to, last Sunday, but I stopped him just as he was goin' out of the door
with four heads strung on a string, for all the airth like a string of inions."
This account cleared up the otherwise unaccountable mystery, and showed that the
landlord, after all, had had no idea of fooling me--but at the same time what could
I think of a harpooneer who stayed out of a
Saturday night clean into the holy Sabbath, engaged in such a cannibal business as
selling the heads of dead idolators? "Depend upon it, landlord, that harpooneer
is a dangerous man."
"He pays reg'lar," was the rejoinder. "But come, it's getting dreadful late, you
had better be turning flukes--it's a nice bed; Sal and me slept in that ere bed the
night we were spliced.
There's plenty of room for two to kick about in that bed; it's an almighty big bed
Why, afore we give it up, Sal used to put our Sam and little Johnny in the foot of
But I got a dreaming and sprawling about one night, and somehow, Sam got pitched on
the floor, and came near breaking his arm. Arter that, Sal said it wouldn't do.
Come along here, I'll give ye a glim in a jiffy;" and so saying he lighted a candle
and held it towards me, offering to lead the way.
But I stood irresolute; when looking at a clock in the corner, he exclaimed "I vum
it's Sunday--you won't see that harpooneer to-night; he's come to anchor somewhere--
come along then; DO come; WON'T ye come?"
I considered the matter a moment, and then up stairs we went, and I was ushered into a
small room, cold as a clam, and furnished, sure enough, with a prodigious bed, almost
big enough indeed for any four harpooneers to sleep abreast.
"There," said the landlord, placing the candle on a crazy old sea chest that did
double duty as a wash-stand and centre table; "there, make yourself comfortable
now, and good night to ye."
I turned round from eyeing the bed, but he had disappeared.
Folding back the counterpane, I stooped over the bed.
Though none of the most elegant, it yet stood the scrutiny tolerably well.
I then glanced round the room; and besides the bedstead and centre table, could see no
other furniture belonging to the place, but a rude shelf, the four walls, and a papered
fireboard representing a man striking a whale.
Of things not properly belonging to the room, there was a hammock lashed up, and
thrown upon the floor in one corner; also a large seaman's bag, containing the
harpooneer's wardrobe, no doubt in lieu of a land trunk.
Likewise, there was a parcel of outlandish bone fish hooks on the shelf over the fire-
place, and a tall harpoon standing at the head of the bed.
But what is this on the chest?
I took it up, and held it close to the light, and felt it, and smelt it, and tried
every way possible to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion concerning it.
I can compare it to nothing but a large door mat, ornamented at the edges with
little tinkling tags something like the stained porcupine quills round an Indian
There was a hole or slit in the middle of this mat, as you see the same in South
American ponchos.
But could it be possible that any sober harpooneer would get into a door mat, and
parade the streets of any Christian town in that sort of guise?
I put it on, to try it, and it weighed me down like a hamper, being uncommonly shaggy
and thick, and I thought a little damp, as though this mysterious harpooneer had been
wearing it of a rainy day.
I went up in it to a bit of glass stuck against the wall, and I never saw such a
sight in my life. I tore myself out of it in such a hurry
that I gave myself a kink in the neck.
I sat down on the side of the bed, and commenced thinking about this head-peddling
harpooneer, and his door mat.
After thinking some time on the bed-side, I got up and took off my monkey jacket, and
then stood in the middle of the room thinking.
I then took off my coat, and thought a little more in my shirt sleeves.
But beginning to feel very cold now, half undressed as I was, and remembering what
the landlord said about the harpooneer's not coming home at all that night, it being
so very late, I made no more ado, but
jumped out of my pantaloons and boots, and then blowing out the light tumbled into
bed, and commended myself to the care of heaven.
Whether that mattress was stuffed with corn-cobs or broken crockery, there is no
telling, but I rolled about a good deal, and could not sleep for a long time.
At last I slid off into a light doze, and had pretty nearly made a good offing
towards the land of Nod, when I heard a heavy footfall in the passage, and saw a
glimmer of light come into the room from under the door.
Lord save me, thinks I, that must be the harpooneer, the infernal head-peddler.
But I lay perfectly still, and resolved not to say a word till spoken to.
Holding a light in one hand, and that identical New Zealand head in the other,
the stranger entered the room, and without looking towards the bed, placed his candle
a good way off from me on the floor in one
corner, and then began working away at the knotted cords of the large bag I before
spoke of as being in the room.
I was all eagerness to see his face, but he kept it averted for some time while
employed in unlacing the bag's mouth. This accomplished, however, he turned
round--when, good heavens! what a sight!
Such a face! It was of a dark, purplish, yellow colour,
here and there stuck over with large blackish looking squares.
Yes, it's just as I thought, he's a terrible bedfellow; he's been in a fight,
got dreadfully cut, and here he is, just from the surgeon.
But at that moment he chanced to turn his face so towards the light, that I plainly
saw they could not be sticking-plasters at all, those black squares on his cheeks.
They were stains of some sort or other.
At first I knew not what to make of this; but soon an inkling of the truth occurred
to me.
I remembered a story of a white man--a whaleman too--who, falling among the
cannibals, had been tattooed by them.
I concluded that this harpooneer, in the course of his distant voyages, must have
met with a similar adventure. And what is it, thought I, after all!
It's only his outside; a man can be honest in any sort of skin.
But then, what to make of his unearthly complexion, that part of it, I mean, lying
round about, and completely independent of the squares of tattooing.
To be sure, it might be nothing but a good coat of tropical tanning; but I never heard
of a hot sun's tanning a white man into a purplish yellow one.
However, I had never been in the South Seas; and perhaps the sun there produced
these extraordinary effects upon the skin.
Now, while all these ideas were passing through me like lightning, this harpooneer
never noticed me at all.
But, after some difficulty having opened his bag, he commenced fumbling in it, and
presently pulled out a sort of tomahawk, and a seal-skin wallet with the hair on.
Placing these on the old chest in the middle of the room, he then took the New
Zealand head--a ghastly thing enough--and crammed it down into the bag.
He now took off his hat--a new beaver hat-- when I came nigh singing out with fresh
There was no hair on his head--none to speak of at least--nothing but a small
scalp-knot twisted up on his forehead. His bald purplish head now looked for all
the world like a mildewed skull.
Had not the stranger stood between me and the door, I would have bolted out of it
quicker than ever I bolted a dinner.
Even as it was, I thought something of slipping out of the window, but it was the
second floor back.
I am no coward, but what to make of this head-peddling purple rascal altogether
passed my comprehension.
Ignorance is the parent of fear, and being completely nonplussed and confounded about
the stranger, I confess I was now as much afraid of him as if it was the devil
himself who had thus broken into my room at the dead of night.
In fact, I was so afraid of him that I was not game enough just then to address him,
and demand a satisfactory answer concerning what seemed inexplicable in him.
Meanwhile, he continued the business of undressing, and at last showed his chest
and arms.
As I live, these covered parts of him were checkered with the same squares as his
face; his back, too, was all over the same dark squares; he seemed to have been in a
Thirty Years' War, and just escaped from it with a sticking-plaster shirt.
Still more, his very legs were marked, as if a parcel of dark green frogs were
running up the trunks of young palms.
It was now quite plain that he must be some abominable savage or other shipped aboard
of a whaleman in the South Seas, and so landed in this Christian country.
I quaked to think of it.
A peddler of heads too--perhaps the heads of his own brothers.
He might take a fancy to mine--heavens! look at that tomahawk!
But there was no time for shuddering, for now the savage went about something that
completely fascinated my attention, and convinced me that he must indeed be a
Going to his heavy grego, or wrapall, or dreadnaught, which he had previously hung
on a chair, he fumbled in the pockets, and produced at length a curious little
deformed image with a hunch on its back,
and exactly the colour of a three days' old Congo baby.
Remembering the embalmed head, at first I almost thought that this black manikin was
a real baby preserved in some similar manner.
But seeing that it was not at all limber, and that it glistened a good deal like
polished ebony, I concluded that it must be nothing but a wooden idol, which indeed it
proved to be.
For now the savage goes up to the empty fire-place, and removing the papered fire-
board, sets up this little hunch-backed image, like a tenpin, between the andirons.
The chimney jambs and all the bricks inside were very sooty, so that I thought this
fire-place made a very appropriate little shrine or chapel for his Congo idol.
I now screwed my eyes hard towards the half hidden image, feeling but ill at ease
meantime--to see what was next to follow.
First he takes about a double handful of shavings out of his grego pocket, and
places them carefully before the idol; then laying a bit of ship biscuit on top and
applying the flame from the lamp, he
kindled the shavings into a sacrificial blaze.
Presently, after many hasty snatches into the fire, and still hastier withdrawals of
his fingers (whereby he seemed to be scorching them badly), he at last succeeded
in drawing out the biscuit; then blowing
off the heat and ashes a little, he made a polite offer of it to the little negro.
But the little devil did not seem to fancy such dry sort of fare at all; he never
moved his lips.
All these strange antics were accompanied by still stranger guttural noises from the
devotee, who seemed to be praying in a sing-song or else singing some pagan
psalmody or other, during which his face
twitched about in the most unnatural manner.
At last extinguishing the fire, he took the idol up very unceremoniously, and bagged it
again in his grego pocket as carelessly as if he were a sportsman bagging a dead
All these queer proceedings increased my uncomfortableness, and seeing him now
exhibiting strong symptoms of concluding his business operations, and jumping into
bed with me, I thought it was high time,
now or never, before the light was put out, to break the spell in which I had so long
been bound. But the interval I spent in deliberating
what to say, was a fatal one.
Taking up his tomahawk from the table, he examined the head of it for an instant, and
then holding it to the light, with his mouth at the handle, he puffed out great
clouds of tobacco smoke.
The next moment the light was extinguished, and this wild cannibal, tomahawk between
his teeth, sprang into bed with me.
I sang out, I could not help it now; and giving a sudden grunt of astonishment he
began feeling me.
Stammering out something, I knew not what, I rolled away from him against the wall,
and then conjured him, whoever or whatever he might be, to keep quiet, and let me get
up and light the lamp again.
But his guttural responses satisfied me at once that he but ill comprehended my
meaning. "Who-e debel you?"--he at last said--"you
no speak-e, dam-me, I kill-e."
And so saying the lighted tomahawk began flourishing about me in the dark.
"Landlord, for God's sake, Peter Coffin!" shouted I.
"Landlord! Watch! Coffin! Angels! save me!"
"Speak-e! tell-ee me who-ee be, or dam-me, I kill-e!" again growled the cannibal,
while his horrid flourishings of the tomahawk scattered the hot tobacco ashes
about me till I thought my linen would get on fire.
But thank heaven, at that moment the landlord came into the room light in hand,
and leaping from the bed I ran up to him.
"Don't be afraid now," said he, grinning again, "Queequeg here wouldn't harm a hair
of your head."
"Stop your grinning," shouted I, "and why didn't you tell me that that infernal
harpooneer was a cannibal?"
"I thought ye know'd it;--didn't I tell ye, he was a peddlin' heads around town?--but
turn flukes again and go to sleep.
Queequeg, look here--you sabbee me, I sabbee--you this man sleepe you--you
"Me sabbee plenty"--grunted Queequeg, puffing away at his pipe and sitting up in
"You gettee in," he added, motioning to me with his tomahawk, and throwing the clothes
to one side. He really did this in not only a civil but
a really kind and charitable way.
I stood looking at him a moment. For all his tattooings he was on the whole
a clean, comely looking cannibal.
What's all this fuss I have been making about, thought I to myself--the man's a
human being just as I am: he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be
afraid of him.
Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.
"Landlord," said I, "tell him to stash his tomahawk there, or pipe, or whatever you
call it; tell him to stop smoking, in short, and I will turn in with him.
But I don't fancy having a man smoking in bed with me.
It's dangerous. Besides, I ain't insured."
This being told to Queequeg, he at once complied, and again politely motioned me to
get into bed--rolling over to one side as much as to say--"I won't touch a leg of
"Good night, landlord," said I, "you may go."
I turned in, and never slept better in my life.
-Chapter 4. The Counterpane.
Upon waking next morning about daylight, I found Queequeg's arm thrown over me in the
most loving and affectionate manner. You had almost thought I had been his wife.
The counterpane was of patchwork, full of odd little parti-coloured squares and
triangles; and this arm of his tattooed all over with an interminable Cretan labyrinth
of a figure, no two parts of which were of
one precise shade--owing I suppose to his keeping his arm at sea unmethodically in
sun and shade, his shirt sleeves irregularly rolled up at various times--
this same arm of his, I say, looked for all
the world like a strip of that same patchwork quilt.
Indeed, partly lying on it as the arm did when I first awoke, I could hardly tell it
from the quilt, they so blended their hues together; and it was only by the sense of
weight and pressure that I could tell that Queequeg was hugging me.
My sensations were strange. Let me try to explain them.
When I was a child, I well remember a somewhat similar circumstance that befell
me; whether it was a reality or a dream, I never could entirely settle.
The circumstance was this.
I had been cutting up some caper or other-- I think it was trying to crawl up the
chimney, as I had seen a little sweep do a few days previous; and my stepmother who,
somehow or other, was all the time whipping
me, or sending me to bed supperless,--my mother dragged me by the legs out of the
chimney and packed me off to bed, though it was only two o'clock in the afternoon of
the 21st June, the longest day in the year in our hemisphere.
I felt dreadfully.
But there was no help for it, so up stairs I went to my little room in the third
floor, undressed myself as slowly as possible so as to kill time, and with a
bitter sigh got between the sheets.
I lay there dismally calculating that sixteen entire hours must elapse before I
could hope for a resurrection. Sixteen hours in bed! the small of my back
ached to think of it.
And it was so light too; the sun shining in at the window, and a great rattling of
coaches in the streets, and the sound of gay voices all over the house.
I felt worse and worse--at last I got up, dressed, and softly going down in my
stockinged feet, sought out my stepmother, and suddenly threw myself at her feet,
beseeching her as a particular favour to
give me a good slippering for my misbehaviour; anything indeed but
condemning me to lie abed such an unendurable length of time.
But she was the best and most conscientious of stepmothers, and back I had to go to my
For several hours I lay there broad awake, feeling a great deal worse than I have ever
done since, even from the greatest subsequent misfortunes.
At last I must have fallen into a troubled nightmare of a doze; and slowly waking from
it--half steeped in dreams--I opened my eyes, and the before sun-lit room was now
wrapped in outer darkness.
Instantly I felt a shock running through all my frame; nothing was to be seen, and
nothing was to be heard; but a supernatural hand seemed placed in mine.
My arm hung over the counterpane, and the nameless, unimaginable, silent form or
phantom, to which the hand belonged, seemed closely seated by my bed-side.
For what seemed ages piled on ages, I lay there, frozen with the most awful fears,
not daring to drag away my hand; yet ever thinking that if I could but stir it one
single inch, the horrid spell would be broken.
I knew not how this consciousness at last glided away from me; but waking in the
morning, I shudderingly remembered it all, and for days and weeks and months
afterwards I lost myself in confounding attempts to explain the mystery.
Nay, to this very hour, I often puzzle myself with it.
Now, take away the awful fear, and my sensations at feeling the supernatural hand
in mine were very similar, in their strangeness, to those which I experienced
on waking up and seeing Queequeg's pagan arm thrown round me.
But at length all the past night's events soberly recurred, one by one, in fixed
reality, and then I lay only alive to the comical predicament.
For though I tried to move his arm--unlock his bridegroom clasp--yet, sleeping as he
was, he still hugged me tightly, as though naught but death should part us twain.
I now strove to rouse him--"Queequeg!"--but his only answer was a snore.
I then rolled over, my neck feeling as if it were in a horse-collar; and suddenly
felt a slight scratch.
Throwing aside the counterpane, there lay the tomahawk sleeping by the savage's side,
as if it were a hatchet-faced baby.
A pretty pickle, truly, thought I; abed here in a strange house in the broad day,
with a cannibal and a tomahawk! "Queequeg!--in the name of goodness,
Queequeg, wake!"
At length, by dint of much wriggling, and loud and incessant expostulations upon the
unbecomingness of his hugging a fellow male in that matrimonial sort of style, I
succeeded in extracting a grunt; and
presently, he drew back his arm, shook himself all over like a Newfoundland dog
just from the water, and sat up in bed, stiff as a pike-staff, looking at me, and
rubbing his eyes as if he did not
altogether remember how I came to be there, though a dim consciousness of knowing
something about me seemed slowly dawning over him.
Meanwhile, I lay quietly eyeing him, having no serious misgivings now, and bent upon
narrowly observing so curious a creature.
When, at last, his mind seemed made up touching the character of his bedfellow,
and he became, as it were, reconciled to the fact; he jumped out upon the floor, and
by certain signs and sounds gave me to
understand that, if it pleased me, he would dress first and then leave me to dress
afterwards, leaving the whole apartment to myself.
Thinks I, Queequeg, under the circumstances, this is a very civilized
overture; but, the truth is, these savages have an innate sense of delicacy, say what
you will; it is marvellous how essentially polite they are.
I pay this particular compliment to Queequeg, because he treated me with so
much civility and consideration, while I was guilty of great rudeness; staring at
him from the bed, and watching all his
toilette motions; for the time my curiosity getting the better of my breeding.
Nevertheless, a man like Queequeg you don't see every day, he and his ways were well
worth unusual regarding.
He commenced dressing at top by donning his beaver hat, a very tall one, by the by, and
then--still minus his trowsers--he hunted up his boots.
What under the heavens he did it for, I cannot tell, but his next movement was to
crush himself--boots in hand, and hat on-- under the bed; when, from sundry violent
gaspings and strainings, I inferred he was
hard at work booting himself; though by no law of propriety that I ever heard of, is
any man required to be private when putting on his boots.
But Queequeg, do you see, was a creature in the transition stage--neither caterpillar
nor butterfly.
He was just enough civilized to show off his outlandishness in the strangest
possible manners. His education was not yet completed.
He was an undergraduate.
If he had not been a small degree civilized, he very probably would not have
troubled himself with boots at all; but then, if he had not been still a savage, he
never would have dreamt of getting under the bed to put them on.
At last, he emerged with his hat very much dented and crushed down over his eyes, and
began creaking and limping about the room, as if, not being much accustomed to boots,
his pair of damp, wrinkled cowhide ones--
probably not made to order either--rather pinched and tormented him at the first go
off of a bitter cold morning.
Seeing, now, that there were no curtains to the window, and that the street being very
narrow, the house opposite commanded a plain view into the room, and observing
more and more the indecorous figure that
Queequeg made, staving about with little else but his hat and boots on; I begged him
as well as I could, to accelerate his toilet somewhat, and particularly to get
into his pantaloons as soon as possible.
He complied, and then proceeded to wash himself.
At that time in the morning any Christian would have washed his face; but Queequeg,
to my amazement, contented himself with restricting his ablutions to his chest,
arms, and hands.
He then donned his waistcoat, and taking up a piece of hard soap on the wash-stand
centre table, dipped it into water and commenced lathering his face.
I was watching to see where he kept his razor, when lo and behold, he takes the
harpoon from the bed corner, slips out the long wooden stock, unsheathes the head,
whets it a little on his boot, and striding
up to the bit of mirror against the wall, begins a vigorous scraping, or rather
harpooning of his cheeks. Thinks I, Queequeg, this is using Rogers's
best cutlery with a vengeance.
Afterwards I wondered the less at this operation when I came to know of what fine
steel the head of a harpoon is made, and how exceedingly sharp the long straight
edges are always kept.
The rest of his toilet was soon achieved, and he proudly marched out of the room,
wrapped up in his great pilot monkey jacket, and sporting his harpoon like a
marshal's baton.
Chapter 5. Breakfast.
I quickly followed suit, and descending into the bar-room accosted the grinning
landlord very pleasantly.
I cherished no malice towards him, though he had been skylarking with me not a little
in the matter of my bedfellow.
However, a good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing;
the more's the pity.
So, if any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a good joke to
anybody, let him not be backward, but let him cheerfully allow himself to spend and
be spent in that way.
And the man that has anything bountifully laughable about him, be sure there is more
in that man than you perhaps think for.
The bar-room was now full of the boarders who had been dropping in the night
previous, and whom I had not as yet had a good look at.
They were nearly all whalemen; chief mates, and second mates, and third mates, and sea
carpenters, and sea coopers, and sea blacksmiths, and harpooneers, and ship
keepers; a brown and brawny company, with
bosky beards; an unshorn, shaggy set, all wearing monkey jackets for morning gowns.
You could pretty plainly tell how long each one had been ashore.
This young fellow's healthy cheek is like a sun-toasted pear in hue, and would seem to
smell almost as musky; he cannot have been three days landed from his Indian voyage.
That man next him looks a few shades lighter; you might say a touch of satin
wood is in him.
In the complexion of a third still lingers a tropic tawn, but slightly bleached
withal; HE doubtless has tarried whole weeks ashore.
But who could show a cheek like Queequeg? which, barred with various tints, seemed
like the Andes' western slope, to show forth in one array, contrasting climates,
zone by zone.
"Grub, ho!" now cried the landlord, flinging open a door, and in we went to
They say that men who have seen the world, thereby become quite at ease in manner,
quite self-possessed in company.
Not always, though: Ledyard, the great New England traveller, and Mungo Park, the
Scotch one; of all men, they possessed the least assurance in the parlor.
But perhaps the mere crossing of Siberia in a sledge drawn by dogs as Ledyard did, or
the taking a long solitary walk on an empty stomach, in the negro heart of Africa,
which was the sum of poor Mungo's
performances--this kind of travel, I say, may not be the very best mode of attaining
a high social polish. Still, for the most part, that sort of
thing is to be had anywhere.
These reflections just here are occasioned by the circumstance that after we were all
seated at the table, and I was preparing to hear some good stories about whaling; to my
no small surprise, nearly every man maintained a profound silence.
And not only that, but they looked embarrassed.
Yes, here were a set of sea-dogs, many of whom without the slightest bashfulness had
boarded great whales on the high seas-- entire strangers to them--and duelled them
dead without winking; and yet, here they
sat at a social breakfast table--all of the same calling, all of kindred tastes--
looking round as sheepishly at each other as though they had never been out of sight
of some sheepfold among the Green Mountains.
A curious sight; these bashful bears, these timid warrior whalemen!
But as for Queequeg--why, Queequeg sat there among them--at the head of the table,
too, it so chanced; as cool as an icicle. To be sure I cannot say much for his
His greatest admirer could not have cordially justified his bringing his
harpoon into breakfast with him, and using it there without ceremony; reaching over
the table with it, to the imminent jeopardy
of many heads, and grappling the beefsteaks towards him.
But THAT was certainly very coolly done by him, and every one knows that in most
people's estimation, to do anything coolly is to do it genteelly.
We will not speak of all Queequeg's peculiarities here; how he eschewed coffee
and hot rolls, and applied his undivided attention to beefsteaks, done rare.
Enough, that when breakfast was over he withdrew like the rest into the public
room, lighted his tomahawk-pipe, and was sitting there quietly digesting and smoking
with his inseparable hat on, when I sallied out for a stroll.
Chapter 6. The Street.
If I had been astonished at first catching a glimpse of so outlandish an individual as
Queequeg circulating among the polite society of a civilized town, that
astonishment soon departed upon taking my
first daylight stroll through the streets of New Bedford.
In thoroughfares nigh the docks, any considerable seaport will frequently offer
to view the queerest looking nondescripts from foreign parts.
Even in Broadway and Chestnut streets, Mediterranean mariners will sometimes
jostle the affrighted ladies.
Regent Street is not unknown to Lascars and Malays; and at Bombay, in the Apollo Green,
live Yankees have often scared the natives. But New Bedford beats all Water Street and
In these last-mentioned haunts you see only sailors; but in New Bedford, actual
cannibals stand chatting at street corners; savages outright; many of whom yet carry on
their bones unholy flesh.
It makes a stranger stare.
But, besides the Feegeeans, Tongatobooarrs, Erromanggoans, Pannangians, and
Brighggians, and, besides the wild specimens of the whaling-craft which
unheeded reel about the streets, you will
see other sights still more curious, certainly more comical.
There weekly arrive in this town scores of green Vermonters and New Hampshire men, all
athirst for gain and glory in the fishery.
They are mostly young, of stalwart frames; fellows who have felled forests, and now
seek to drop the axe and snatch the whale- lance.
Many are as green as the Green Mountains whence they came.
In some things you would think them but a few hours old.
Look there! that chap strutting round the corner.
He wears a beaver hat and swallow-tailed coat, girdled with a sailor-belt and
Here comes another with a sou'-wester and a bombazine cloak.
No town-bred dandy will compare with a country-bred one--I mean a downright
bumpkin dandy--a fellow that, in the dog- days, will mow his two acres in buckskin
gloves for fear of tanning his hands.
Now when a country dandy like this takes it into his head to make a distinguished
reputation, and joins the great whale- fishery, you should see the comical things
he does upon reaching the seaport.
In bespeaking his sea-outfit, he orders bell-buttons to his waistcoats; straps to
his canvas trowsers.
Ah, poor Hay-Seed! how bitterly will burst those straps in the first howling gale,
when thou art driven, straps, buttons, and all, down the throat of the tempest.
But think not that this famous town has only harpooneers, cannibals, and bumpkins
to show her visitors. Not at all.
Still New Bedford is a queer place.
Had it not been for us whalemen, that tract of land would this day perhaps have been in
as howling condition as the coast of Labrador.
As it is, parts of her back country are enough to frighten one, they look so bony.
The town itself is perhaps the dearest place to live in, in all New England.
It is a land of oil, true enough: but not like Canaan; a land, also, of corn and
The streets do not run with milk; nor in the spring-time do they pave them with
fresh eggs.
Yet, in spite of this, nowhere in all America will you find more patrician-like
houses; parks and gardens more opulent, than in New Bedford.
Whence came they? how planted upon this once scraggy scoria of a country?
Go and gaze upon the iron emblematical harpoons round yonder lofty mansion, and
your question will be answered.
Yes; all these brave houses and flowery gardens came from the Atlantic, Pacific,
and Indian oceans.
One and all, they were harpooned and dragged up hither from the bottom of the
sea. Can Herr Alexander perform a feat like
In New Bedford, fathers, they say, give whales for dowers to their daughters, and
portion off their nieces with a few porpoises a-piece.
You must go to New Bedford to see a brilliant wedding; for, they say, they have
reservoirs of oil in every house, and every night recklessly burn their lengths in
spermaceti candles.
In summer time, the town is sweet to see; full of fine maples--long avenues of green
and gold.
And in August, high in air, the beautiful and bountiful horse-chestnuts, candelabra-
wise, proffer the passer-by their tapering upright cones of congregated blossoms.
So omnipotent is art; which in many a district of New Bedford has superinduced
bright terraces of flowers upon the barren refuse rocks thrown aside at creation's
final day.
And the women of New Bedford, they bloom like their own red roses.
But roses only bloom in summer; whereas the fine carnation of their cheeks is perennial
as sunlight in the seventh heavens.
Elsewhere match that bloom of theirs, ye cannot, save in Salem, where they tell me
the young girls breathe such musk, their sailor sweethearts smell them miles off
shore, as though they were drawing nigh the
odorous Moluccas instead of the Puritanic sands.
Chapter 7. The Chapel.
In this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman's Chapel, and few are the moody
fishermen, shortly bound for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a Sunday
visit to the spot.
I am sure that I did not. Returning from my first morning stroll, I
again sallied out upon this special errand. The sky had changed from clear, sunny cold,
to driving sleet and mist.
Wrapping myself in my shaggy jacket of the cloth called bearskin, I fought my way
against the stubborn storm.
Entering, I found a small scattered congregation of sailors, and sailors' wives
and widows. A muffled silence reigned, only broken at
times by the shrieks of the storm.
Each silent worshipper seemed purposely sitting apart from the other, as if each
silent grief were insular and incommunicable.
The chaplain had not yet arrived; and there these silent islands of men and women sat
steadfastly eyeing several marble tablets, with black borders, masoned into the wall
on either side the pulpit.
Three of them ran something like the following, but I do not pretend to quote:--
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF JOHN TALBOT, Who, at the age of eighteen, was lost overboard,
Near the Isle of Desolation, off Patagonia, November 1st, 1836.
THIS TABLET Is erected to his Memory BY HIS SISTER.
MACY, AND SAMUEL GLEIG, Forming one of the boats' crews OF THE SHIP ELIZA Who were
towed out of sight by a Whale, On the Off-
shore Ground in the PACIFIC, December 31st, 1839.
THIS MARBLE Is here placed by their surviving SHIPMATES.
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF The late CAPTAIN EZEKIEL HARDY, Who in the bows of his boat
was killed by a Sperm Whale on the coast of Japan, AUGUST 3d, 1833.
THIS TABLET Is erected to his Memory BY HIS WIDOW.
Shaking off the sleet from my ice-glazed hat and jacket, I seated myself near the
door, and turning sideways was surprised to see Queequeg near me.
Affected by the solemnity of the scene, there was a wondering gaze of incredulous
curiosity in his countenance.
This savage was the only person present who seemed to notice my entrance; because he
was the only one who could not read, and, therefore, was not reading those frigid
inscriptions on the wall.
Whether any of the relatives of the seamen whose names appeared there were now among
the congregation, I knew not; but so many are the unrecorded accidents in the
fishery, and so plainly did several women
present wear the countenance if not the trappings of some unceasing grief, that I
feel sure that here before me were assembled those, in whose unhealing hearts
the sight of those bleak tablets
sympathetically caused the old wounds to bleed afresh.
Oh! ye whose dead lie buried beneath the green grass; who standing among flowers can
say--here, HERE lies my beloved; ye know not the desolation that broods in bosoms
like these.
What bitter blanks in those black-bordered marbles which cover no ashes!
What despair in those immovable inscriptions!
What deadly voids and unbidden infidelities in the lines that seem to gnaw upon all
Faith, and refuse resurrections to the beings who have placelessly perished
without a grave.
As well might those tablets stand in the cave of Elephanta as here.
In what census of living creatures, the dead of mankind are included; why it is
that a universal proverb says of them, that they tell no tales, though containing more
secrets than the Goodwin Sands; how it is
that to his name who yesterday departed for the other world, we prefix so significant
and infidel a word, and yet do not thus entitle him, if he but embarks for the
remotest Indies of this living earth; why
the Life Insurance Companies pay death- forfeitures upon immortals; in what
eternal, unstirring paralysis, and deadly, hopeless trance, yet lies antique Adam who
died sixty round centuries ago; how it is
that we still refuse to be comforted for those who we nevertheless maintain are
dwelling in unspeakable bliss; why all the living so strive to hush all the dead;
wherefore but the rumor of a knocking in a tomb will terrify a whole city.
All these things are not without their meanings.
But Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she
gathers her most vital hope.
It needs scarcely to be told, with what feelings, on the eve of a Nantucket voyage,
I regarded those marble tablets, and by the murky light of that darkened, doleful day
read the fate of the whalemen who had gone before me.
Yes, Ishmael, the same fate may be thine. But somehow I grew merry again.
Delightful inducements to embark, fine chance for promotion, it seems--aye, a
stove boat will make me an immortal by brevet.
Yes, there is death in this business of whaling--a speechlessly quick chaotic
bundling of a man into Eternity. But what then?
Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death.
Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance.
Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters
observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of
Methinks my body is but the lees of my better being.
In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me.
And therefore three cheers for Nantucket; and come a stove boat and stove body when
they will, for stave my soul, Jove himself cannot.
-Chapter 8. The Pulpit.
I had not been seated very long ere a man of a certain venerable robustness entered;
immediately as the storm-pelted door flew back upon admitting him, a quick regardful
eyeing of him by all the congregation,
sufficiently attested that this fine old man was the chaplain.
Yes, it was the famous Father Mapple, so called by the whalemen, among whom he was a
very great favourite.
He had been a sailor and a harpooneer in his youth, but for many years past had
dedicated his life to the ministry.
At the time I now write of, Father Mapple was in the hardy winter of a healthy old
age; that sort of old age which seems merging into a second flowering youth, for
among all the fissures of his wrinkles,
there shone certain mild gleams of a newly developing bloom--the spring verdure
peeping forth even beneath February's snow.
No one having previously heard his history, could for the first time behold Father
Mapple without the utmost interest, because there were certain engrafted clerical
peculiarities about him, imputable to that adventurous maritime life he had led.
When he entered I observed that he carried no umbrella, and certainly had not come in
his carriage, for his tarpaulin hat ran down with melting sleet, and his great
pilot cloth jacket seemed almost to drag
him to the floor with the weight of the water it had absorbed.
However, hat and coat and overshoes were one by one removed, and hung up in a little
space in an adjacent corner; when, arrayed in a decent suit, he quietly approached the
Like most old fashioned pulpits, it was a very lofty one, and since a regular stairs
to such a height would, by its long angle with the floor, seriously contract the
already small area of the chapel, the
architect, it seemed, had acted upon the hint of Father Mapple, and finished the
pulpit without a stairs, substituting a perpendicular side ladder, like those used
in mounting a ship from a boat at sea.
The wife of a whaling captain had provided the chapel with a handsome pair of red
worsted man-ropes for this ladder, which, being itself nicely headed, and stained
with a mahogany colour, the whole
contrivance, considering what manner of chapel it was, seemed by no means in bad
Halting for an instant at the foot of the ladder, and with both hands grasping the
ornamental knobs of the man-ropes, Father Mapple cast a look upwards, and then with a
truly sailor-like but still reverential
dexterity, hand over hand, mounted the steps as if ascending the main-top of his
The perpendicular parts of this side ladder, as is usually the case with
swinging ones, were of cloth-covered rope, only the rounds were of wood, so that at
every step there was a joint.
At my first glimpse of the pulpit, it had not escaped me that however convenient for
a ship, these joints in the present instance seemed unnecessary.
For I was not prepared to see Father Mapple after gaining the height, slowly turn
round, and stooping over the pulpit, deliberately drag up the ladder step by
step, till the whole was deposited within,
leaving him impregnable in his little Quebec.
I pondered some time without fully comprehending the reason for this.
Father Mapple enjoyed such a wide reputation for sincerity and sanctity, that
I could not suspect him of courting notoriety by any mere tricks of the stage.
No, thought I, there must be some sober reason for this thing; furthermore, it must
symbolize something unseen.
Can it be, then, that by that act of physical isolation, he signifies his
spiritual withdrawal for the time, from all outward worldly ties and connexions?
Yes, for replenished with the meat and wine of the word, to the faithful man of God,
this pulpit, I see, is a self-containing stronghold--a lofty Ehrenbreitstein, with a
perennial well of water within the walls.
But the side ladder was not the only strange feature of the place, borrowed from
the chaplain's former sea-farings.
Between the marble cenotaphs on either hand of the pulpit, the wall which formed its
back was adorned with a large painting representing a gallant ship beating against
a terrible storm off a lee coast of black rocks and snowy breakers.
But high above the flying scud and dark- rolling clouds, there floated a little isle
of sunlight, from which beamed forth an angel's face; and this bright face shed a
distinct spot of radiance upon the ship's
tossed deck, something like that silver plate now inserted into the Victory's plank
where Nelson fell.
"Ah, noble ship," the angel seemed to say, "beat on, beat on, thou noble ship, and
bear a hardy helm; for lo! the sun is breaking through; the clouds are rolling
off--serenest azure is at hand."
Nor was the pulpit itself without a trace of the same sea-taste that had achieved the
ladder and the picture.
Its panelled front was in the likeness of a ship's bluff bows, and the Holy Bible
rested on a projecting piece of scroll work, fashioned after a ship's fiddle-
headed beak.
What could be more full of meaning?--for the pulpit is ever this earth's foremost
part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world.
From thence it is the storm of God's quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must
bear the earliest brunt.
From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favourable
Yes, the world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit
is its prow.
Chapter 9. The Sermon.
Father Mapple rose, and in a mild voice of unassuming authority ordered the scattered
people to condense. "Starboard gangway, there! side away to
larboard--larboard gangway to starboard!
Midships! midships!" There was a low rumbling of heavy sea-boots
among the benches, and a still slighter shuffling of women's shoes, and all was
quiet again, and every eye on the preacher.
He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit's bows, folded his large brown hands
across his chest, uplifted his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that
he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea.
This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship
that is foundering at sea in a fog--in such tones he commenced reading the following
hymn; but changing his manner towards the
concluding stanzas, burst forth with a pealing exultation and joy--
"The ribs and terrors in the whale, Arched over me a dismal gloom,
While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by, And lift me deepening down to doom.
"I saw the opening maw of hell, With endless pains and sorrows there;
Which none but they that feel can tell-- Oh, I was plunging to despair.
"In black distress, I called my God, When I could scarce believe him mine,
He bowed his ear to my complaints-- No more the whale did me confine.
"With speed he flew to my relief, As on a radiant dolphin borne;
Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone The face of my Deliverer God.
"My song for ever shall record That terrible, that joyful hour;
I give the glory to my God, His all the mercy and the power."
Nearly all joined in singing this hymn, which swelled high above the howling of the
A brief pause ensued; the preacher slowly turned over the leaves of the Bible, and at
last, folding his hand down upon the proper page, said: "Beloved shipmates, clinch the
last verse of the first chapter of Jonah--
'And God had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.'"
"Shipmates, this book, containing only four chapters--four yarns--is one of the
smallest strands in the mighty cable of the Scriptures.
Yet what depths of the soul does Jonah's deep sealine sound! what a pregnant lesson
to us is this prophet! What a noble thing is that canticle in the
fish's belly!
How billow-like and boisterously grand! We feel the floods surging over us; we
sound with him to the kelpy bottom of the waters; sea-weed and all the slime of the
sea is about us!
But WHAT is this lesson that the book of Jonah teaches?
Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a
lesson to me as a pilot of the living God.
As sinful men, it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard-
heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers, and
finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah.
As with all sinners among men, the sin of this son of Amittai was in his wilful
disobedience of the command of God--never mind now what that command was, or how
conveyed--which he found a hard command.
But all the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do--remember that--
and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade.
And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying
ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists.
"With this sin of disobedience in him, Jonah still further flouts at God, by
seeking to flee from Him.
He thinks that a ship made by men will carry him into countries where God does not
reign, but only the Captains of this earth. He skulks about the wharves of Joppa, and
seeks a ship that's bound for Tarshish.
There lurks, perhaps, a hitherto unheeded meaning here.
By all accounts Tarshish could have been no other city than the modern Cadiz.
That's the opinion of learned men.
And where is Cadiz, shipmates? Cadiz is in Spain; as far by water, from
Joppa, as Jonah could possibly have sailed in those ancient days, when the Atlantic
was an almost unknown sea.
Because Joppa, the modern Jaffa, shipmates, is on the most easterly coast of the
Mediterranean, the Syrian; and Tarshish or Cadiz more than two thousand miles to the
westward from that, just outside the Straits of Gibraltar.
See ye not then, shipmates, that Jonah sought to flee world-wide from God?
Miserable man!
Oh! most contemptible and worthy of all scorn; with slouched hat and guilty eye,
skulking from his God; prowling among the shipping like a vile burglar hastening to
cross the seas.
So disordered, self-condemning is his look, that had there been policemen in those
days, Jonah, on the mere suspicion of something wrong, had been arrested ere he
touched a deck.
How plainly he's a fugitive! no baggage, not a hat-box, valise, or carpet-bag,--no
friends accompany him to the wharf with their adieux.
At last, after much dodging search, he finds the Tarshish ship receiving the last
items of her cargo; and as he steps on board to see its Captain in the cabin, all
the sailors for the moment desist from
hoisting in the goods, to mark the stranger's evil eye.
Jonah sees this; but in vain he tries to look all ease and confidence; in vain
essays his wretched smile.
Strong intuitions of the man assure the mariners he can be no innocent.
In their gamesome but still serious way, one whispers to the other--"Jack, he's
robbed a widow;" or, "Joe, do you mark him; he's a bigamist;" or, "Harry lad, I guess
he's the adulterer that broke jail in old
Gomorrah, or belike, one of the missing murderers from Sodom."
Another runs to read the bill that's stuck against the spile upon the wharf to which
the ship is moored, offering five hundred gold coins for the apprehension of a
parricide, and containing a description of his person.
He reads, and looks from Jonah to the bill; while all his sympathetic shipmates now
crowd round Jonah, prepared to lay their hands upon him.
Frighted Jonah trembles, and summoning all his boldness to his face, only looks so
much the more a coward. He will not confess himself suspected; but
that itself is strong suspicion.
So he makes the best of it; and when the sailors find him not to be the man that is
advertised, they let him pass, and he descends into the cabin.
"'Who's there?' cries the Captain at his busy desk, hurriedly making out his papers
for the Customs--'Who's there?' Oh! how that harmless question mangles
For the instant he almost turns to flee again.
But he rallies. 'I seek a passage in this ship to Tarshish;
how soon sail ye, sir?'
Thus far the busy Captain had not looked up to Jonah, though the man now stands before
him; but no sooner does he hear that hollow voice, than he darts a scrutinizing glance.
'We sail with the next coming tide,' at last he slowly answered, still intently
eyeing him. 'No sooner, sir?'--'Soon enough for any
honest man that goes a passenger.'
Ha! Jonah, that's another stab. But he swiftly calls away the Captain from
that scent.
'I'll sail with ye,'--he says,--'the passage money how much is that?--I'll pay
For it is particularly written, shipmates, as if it were a thing not to be overlooked
in this history, 'that he paid the fare thereof' ere the craft did sail.
And taken with the context, this is full of meaning.
"Now Jonah's Captain, shipmates, was one whose discernment detects crime in any, but
whose cupidity exposes it only in the penniless.
In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without a
passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.
So Jonah's Captain prepares to test the length of Jonah's purse, ere he judge him
openly. He charges him thrice the usual sum; and
it's assented to.
Then the Captain knows that Jonah is a fugitive; but at the same time resolves to
help a flight that paves its rear with gold.
Yet when Jonah fairly takes out his purse, prudent suspicions still molest the
Captain. He rings every coin to find a counterfeit.
Not a forger, any way, he mutters; and Jonah is put down for his passage.
'Point out my state-room, Sir,' says Jonah now, 'I'm travel-weary; I need sleep.'
'Thou lookest like it,' says the Captain, 'there's thy room.'
Jonah enters, and would lock the door, but the lock contains no key.
Hearing him foolishly fumbling there, the Captain laughs lowly to himself, and
mutters something about the doors of convicts' cells being never allowed to be
locked within.
All dressed and dusty as he is, Jonah throws himself into his berth, and finds
the little state-room ceiling almost resting on his forehead.
The air is close, and Jonah gasps.
Then, in that contracted hole, sunk, too, beneath the ship's water-line, Jonah feels
the heralding presentiment of that stifling hour, when the whale shall hold him in the
smallest of his bowels' wards.
"Screwed at its axis against the side, a swinging lamp slightly oscillates in
Jonah's room; and the ship, heeling over towards the wharf with the weight of the
last bales received, the lamp, flame and
all, though in slight motion, still maintains a permanent obliquity with
reference to the room; though, in truth, infallibly straight itself, it but made
obvious the false, lying levels among which it hung.
The lamp alarms and frightens Jonah; as lying in his berth his tormented eyes roll
round the place, and this thus far successful fugitive finds no refuge for his
restless glance.
But that contradiction in the lamp more and more appals him.
The floor, the ceiling, and the side, are all awry.
'Oh! so my conscience hangs in me!' he groans, 'straight upwards, so it burns; but
the chambers of my soul are all in crookedness!'
"Like one who after a night of drunken revelry hies to his bed, still reeling, but
with conscience yet pricking him, as the plungings of the Roman race-horse but so
much the more strike his steel tags into
him; as one who in that miserable plight still turns and turns in giddy anguish,
praying God for annihilation until the fit be passed; and at last amid the whirl of
woe he feels, a deep stupor steals over
him, as over the man who bleeds to death, for conscience is the wound, and there's
naught to staunch it; so, after sore wrestlings in his berth, Jonah's prodigy of
ponderous misery drags him drowning down to sleep.
"And now the time of tide has come; the ship casts off her cables; and from the
deserted wharf the uncheered ship for Tarshish, all careening, glides to sea.
That ship, my friends, was the first of recorded smugglers! the contraband was
Jonah. But the sea rebels; he will not bear the
wicked burden.
A dreadful storm comes on, the ship is like to break.
But now when the boatswain calls all hands to lighten her; when boxes, bales, and jars
are clattering overboard; when the wind is shrieking, and the men are yelling, and
every plank thunders with trampling feet
right over Jonah's head; in all this raging tumult, Jonah sleeps his hideous sleep.
He sees no black sky and raging sea, feels not the reeling timbers, and little hears
he or heeds he the far rush of the mighty whale, which even now with open mouth is
cleaving the seas after him.
Aye, shipmates, Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship--a berth in the cabin
as I have taken it, and was fast asleep.
But the frightened master comes to him, and shrieks in his dead ear, 'What meanest
thou, O, sleeper! arise!'
Startled from his lethargy by that direful cry, Jonah staggers to his feet, and
stumbling to the deck, grasps a shroud, to look out upon the sea.
But at that moment he is sprung upon by a panther billow leaping over the bulwarks.
Wave after wave thus leaps into the ship, and finding no speedy vent runs roaring
fore and aft, till the mariners come nigh to drowning while yet afloat.
And ever, as the white moon shows her affrighted face from the steep gullies in
the blackness overhead, aghast Jonah sees the rearing bowsprit pointing high upward,
but soon beat downward again towards the tormented deep.
"Terrors upon terrors run shouting through his soul.
In all his cringing attitudes, the God- fugitive is now too plainly known.
The sailors mark him; more and more certain grow their suspicions of him, and at last,
fully to test the truth, by referring the whole matter to high Heaven, they fall to
casting lots, to see for whose cause this great tempest was upon them.
The lot is Jonah's; that discovered, then how furiously they mob him with their
'What is thine occupation? Whence comest thou?
Thy country? What people?
But mark now, my shipmates, the behavior of poor Jonah.
The eager mariners but ask him who he is, and where from; whereas, they not only
receive an answer to those questions, but likewise another answer to a question not
put by them, but the unsolicited answer is
forced from Jonah by the hard hand of God that is upon him.
"'I am a Hebrew,' he cries--and then--'I fear the Lord the God of Heaven who hath
made the sea and the dry land!'
Fear him, O Jonah? Aye, well mightest thou fear the Lord God
Straightway, he now goes on to make a full confession; whereupon the mariners became
more and more appalled, but still are pitiful.
For when Jonah, not yet supplicating God for mercy, since he but too well knew the
darkness of his deserts,--when wretched Jonah cries out to them to take him and
cast him forth into the sea, for he knew
that for HIS sake this great tempest was upon them; they mercifully turn from him,
and seek by other means to save the ship.
But all in vain; the indignant gale howls louder; then, with one hand raised
invokingly to God, with the other they not unreluctantly lay hold of Jonah.
"And now behold Jonah taken up as an anchor and dropped into the sea; when instantly an
oily calmness floats out from the east, and the sea is still, as Jonah carries down the
gale with him, leaving smooth water behind.
He goes down in the whirling heart of such a masterless commotion that he scarce heeds
the moment when he drops seething into the yawning jaws awaiting him; and the whale
shoots-to all his ivory teeth, like so many white bolts, upon his prison.
Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord out of the fish's belly.
But observe his prayer, and learn a weighty lesson.
For sinful as he is, Jonah does not weep and wail for direct deliverance.
He feels that his dreadful punishment is just.
He leaves all his deliverance to God, contenting himself with this, that spite of
all his pains and pangs, he will still look towards His holy temple.
And here, shipmates, is true and faithful repentance; not clamorous for pardon, but
grateful for punishment.
And how pleasing to God was this conduct in Jonah, is shown in the eventual deliverance
of him from the sea and the whale.
Shipmates, I do not place Jonah before you to be copied for his sin but I do place him
before you as a model for repentance. Sin not; but if you do, take heed to repent
of it like Jonah."
While he was speaking these words, the howling of the shrieking, slanting storm
without seemed to add new power to the preacher, who, when describing Jonah's sea-
storm, seemed tossed by a storm himself.
His deep chest heaved as with a ground- swell; his tossed arms seemed the warring
elements at work; and the thunders that rolled away from off his swarthy brow, and
the light leaping from his eye, made all
his simple hearers look on him with a quick fear that was strange to them.
There now came a lull in his look, as he silently turned over the leaves of the Book
once more; and, at last, standing motionless, with closed eyes, for the
moment, seemed communing with God and himself.
But again he leaned over towards the people, and bowing his head lowly, with an
aspect of the deepest yet manliest humility, he spake these words:
"Shipmates, God has laid but one hand upon you; both his hands press upon me.
I have read ye by what murky light may be mine the lesson that Jonah teaches to all
sinners; and therefore to ye, and still more to me, for I am a greater sinner than
And now how gladly would I come down from this mast-head and sit on the hatches there
where you sit, and listen as you listen, while some one of you reads ME that other
and more awful lesson which Jonah teaches to ME, as a pilot of the living God.
How being an anointed pilot-prophet, or speaker of true things, and bidden by the
Lord to sound those unwelcome truths in the ears of a wicked Nineveh, Jonah, appalled
at the hostility he should raise, fled from
his mission, and sought to escape his duty and his God by taking ship at Joppa.
But God is everywhere; Tarshish he never reached.
As we have seen, God came upon him in the whale, and swallowed him down to living
gulfs of doom, and with swift slantings tore him along 'into the midst of the
seas,' where the eddying depths sucked him
ten thousand fathoms down, and 'the weeds were wrapped about his head,' and all the
watery world of woe bowled over him.
Yet even then beyond the reach of any plummet--'out of the belly of hell'--when
the whale grounded upon the ocean's utmost bones, even then, God heard the engulphed,
repenting prophet when he cried.
Then God spake unto the fish; and from the shuddering cold and blackness of the sea,
the whale came breeching up towards the warm and pleasant sun, and all the delights
of air and earth; and 'vomited out Jonah
upon the dry land;' when the word of the Lord came a second time; and Jonah, bruised
and beaten--his ears, like two sea-shells, still multitudinously murmuring of the
ocean--Jonah did the Almighty's bidding.
And what was that, shipmates? To preach the Truth to the face of
Falsehood! That was it!
"This, shipmates, this is that other lesson; and woe to that pilot of the living
God who slights it. Woe to him whom this world charms from
Gospel duty!
Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a
gale! Woe to him who seeks to please rather than
to appal!
Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness!
Woe to him who, in this world, courts not dishonour!
Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were salvation!
Yea, woe to him who, as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is
himself a castaway!"
He dropped and fell away from himself for a moment; then lifting his face to them
again, showed a deep joy in his eyes, as he cried out with a heavenly enthusiasm,--"But
oh! shipmates! on the starboard hand of
every woe, there is a sure delight; and higher the top of that delight, than the
bottom of the woe is deep. Is not the main-truck higher than the
kelson is low?
Delight is to him--a far, far upward, and inward delight--who against the proud gods
and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own inexorable self.
Delight is to him whose strong arms yet support him, when the ship of this base
treacherous world has gone down beneath him.
Delight is to him, who gives no quarter in the truth, and kills, burns, and destroys
all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of Senators and Judges.
Delight,--top-gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the
Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven.
Delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the seas of the boisterous
mob can never shake from this sure Keel of the Ages.
And eternal delight and deliciousness will be his, who coming to lay him down, can say
with his final breath--O Father!--chiefly known to me by Thy rod--mortal or immortal,
here I die.
I have striven to be Thine, more than to be this world's, or mine own.
Yet this is nothing: I leave eternity to Thee; for what is man that he should live
out the lifetime of his God?"
He said no more, but slowly waving a benediction, covered his face with his
hands, and so remained kneeling, till all the people had departed, and he was left
alone in the place.