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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
These are hieroglyphical; that is, if you call those mysterious cyphers on the walls of pyramids hieroglyphics, then that is the proper word to use in the present connexion.  By my retentive memory of the hieroglyphics upon one Sperm Whale in particular, I was much struck with a plate representing the old Indian characters chiselled on the famous hieroglyphic palisades on the banks of the Upper Mississippi.  Like those mystic rocks, too, the mystic-marked whale remains undecipherable.  This allusion to the Indian rocks reminds me of another thing.  Besides all the other phenomena which the exterior of the Sperm Whale presents, he not seldom displays the back, and more especially his flanks, effaced in great part of the regular linear appearance, by reason of numerous rude scratches, altogether of an irregular, random aspect.  I should say that those New England rocks on the seacoast, which Agassiz imagines to bear the marks of violent scraping contact with vast floating icebergs—­I should say, that those rocks must not a little resemble the Sperm Whale in this particular.  It also seems to me that such scratches in the whale are probably made by hostile contact with other whales; for I have most remarked them in the large, full-grown bulls of the species.

A word or two more concerning this matter of the skin or blubber of the whale.  It has already been said, that it is stript from him in long pieces, called blanket-pieces.  Like most sea-terms, this one is very happy and significant.  For the whale is indeed wrapt up in his blubber as in a real blanket or counterpane; or, still better, an Indian poncho slipt over his head, and skirting his extremity.  It is by reason of this cosy blanketing of his body, that the whale is enabled to keep himself comfortable in all weathers, in all seas, times, and tides.  What would become of a Greenland whale, say, in those shuddering, icy seas of the North, if unsupplied with his cosy surtout?  True, other fish are found exceedingly brisk in those Hyperborean waters; but these, be it observed, are your cold-blooded, lungless fish, whose very bellies are refrigerators; creatures, that warm themselves under the lee of an iceberg, as a traveller in winter would bask before an inn fire; whereas, like man, the whale has lungs and warm blood.  Freeze his blood, and he dies.  How wonderful is it then—­except after explanation—­that this great monster, to whom corporeal warmth is as indispensable as it is to man; how wonderful that he should be found at home, immersed to his lips for life in those Arctic waters! where, when seamen fall overboard, they are sometimes found, months afterwards, perpendicularly frozen into the hearts of fields of ice, as a fly is found glued in amber.  But more surprising is it to know, as has been proved by experiment, that the blood of a Polar whale is warmer than that of a Borneo negro in summer.

It does seem to me, that herein we see the rare virtue of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness.  Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale!  Do thou, too, remain warm among ice.  Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it.  Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole.  Like the great dome of St. Peter’s, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.

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