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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
a stiff gale, are still entirely incompetent to the business of singing out upon discovering any strange sight.  There is Napoleon; who, upon the top of the column of Vendome stands with arms folded, some one hundred and fifty feet in the air; careless, now, who rules the decks below, whether Louis Philippe, Louis Blanc, or Louis the Devil.  Great Washington, too, stands high aloft on his towering main-mast in Baltimore, and like one of Hercules’ pillars, his column marks that point of human grandeur beyond which few mortals will go.  Admiral Nelson, also, on a capstan of gun-metal, stands his mast-head in Trafalgar Square; and even when most obscured by that London smoke, token is yet given that a hidden hero is there; for where there is smoke, must be fire.  But neither great Washington, nor Napoleon, nor Nelson, will answer a single hail from below, however madly invoked to befriend by their counsels the distracted decks upon which they gaze; however it may be surmised, that their spirits penetrate through the thick haze of the future, and descry what shoals and what rocks must be shunned.

It may seem unwarrantable to couple in any respect the mast-head standers of the land with those of the sea; but that in truth it is not so, is plainly evinced by an item for which Obed Macy, the sole historian of Nantucket, stands accountable.  The worthy Obed tells us, that in the early times of the whale fishery, ere ships were regularly launched in pursuit of the game, the people of that island erected lofty spars along the seacoast, to which the look-outs ascended by means of nailed cleats, something as fowls go upstairs in a hen-house.  A few years ago this same plan was adopted by the Bay whalemen of New Zealand, who, upon descrying the game, gave notice to the ready-manned boats nigh the beach.  But this custom has now become obsolete; turn we then to the one proper mast-head, that of a whale-ship at sea.  The three mast-heads are kept manned from sun-rise to sun-set; the seamen taking their regular turns (as at the helm), and relieving each other every two hours.  In the serene weather of the tropics it is exceedingly pleasant the mast-head:  nay, to a dreamy meditative man it is delightful.  There you stand, a hundred feet above the silent decks, striding along the deep, as if the masts were gigantic stilts, while beneath you and between your legs, as it were, swim the hugest monsters of the sea, even as ships once sailed between the boots of the famous Colossus at old Rhodes.  There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea, with nothing ruffled but the waves.  The tranced ship indolently rolls; the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into languor.  For the most part, in this tropic whaling life, a sublime uneventfulness invests you; you hear no news; read no gazettes; extras with startling accounts of commonplaces never delude you into unnecessary excitements; you hear of no domestic afflictions; bankrupt securities; fall of stocks; are never troubled with the thought of what you shall have for dinner—­ for all your meals for three years and more are snugly stowed in casks, and your bill of fare is immutable.

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