“’Also bear with all of us, sir sailor; for we all join in Don Sebastian’s suit,’ cried the company, with exceeding interest.
“‘Is there a copy of the Holy Evangelists in the Golden Inn, gentlemen?’
“‘Nay,’ said Don Sebastian; ’but I know a worthy priest near by, who will quickly procure one for me. I go for it; but are you well advised? this may grow too serious.’
“‘Will you be so good as to bring the priest also, Don?’
“‘Though there are no Auto-da-Fe’s in Lima now,’ said one of the company to another; ’I fear our sailor friend runs risks of the archiepiscopacy. Let us withdraw more out of the moonlight. I see no need of this.’
“’Excuse me for running after you, Don Sebastian; but may I also beg that you will be particular in procuring the largest sized Evangelists you can.’
‘This is the priest, he brings you the Evangelists,’ said Don Sebastian, gravely, returning with a tall and solemn figure.
“’Let me remove my hat. Now, venerable priest, further into the light, and hold the Holy Book before me that I may touch it.
“’So help me Heaven, and on my honor the story I have told ye, gentlemen, is in substance and its great items, true. I know it to be true; it happened on this ball; I trod the ship; I knew the crew; I have seen and talked with Steelkilt since the death of Radney.”
Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
I shall ere long paint to you as well as one can without canvas, something like the true form of the whale as he actually appears to the eye of the whaleman when in his own absolute body the whale is moored alongside the whaleship so that he can be fairly stepped upon there. It may be worth while, therefore, previously to advert to those curious imaginary portraits of him which even down to the present day confidently challenge the faith of the landsman. It is time to set the world right in this matter, by proving such pictures of the whale all wrong.
It may be that the primal source of all those pictorial delusions will be found among the oldest Hindoo, Egyptian, and Grecian sculptures. For ever since those inventive but unscrupulous times when on the marble panellings of temples, the pedestals of statues, and on shields, medallions, cups, and coins, the dolphin was drawn in scales of chain-armor like Saladin’s, and a helmeted head like St. George’s; ever since then has something of the same sort of license prevailed, not only in most popular pictures of the whale, but in many scientific presentations of him.