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Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.

But now forget all about blinds and whiskers for a moment, and, standing in the Right Whale’s mouth, look around you afresh.  Seeing all these colonnades of bone so methodically ranged about, would you not think you were inside of the great Haarlem organ, and gazing upon its thousand pipes?  For a carpet to the organ we have a rug of the softest Turkey—­the tongue, which is glued, as it were, to the floor of the mouth.  It is very fat and tender, and apt to tear in pieces in hoisting it on deck.  This particular tongue now before us; at a passing glance I should say it was a six-barreler; that is, it will yield you about that amount of oil.

Ere this, you must have plainly seen the truth of what I started with—­ that the Sperm Whale and the Right Whale have almost entirely different heads.  To sum up, then:  in the Right Whale’s there is no great well of sperm; no ivory teeth at all; no long, slender mandible of a lower jaw, like the Sperm Whale’s.  Nor in the Sperm Whale are there any of those blinds of bone; no huge lower lip; and scarcely anything of a tongue.  Again, the Right Whale has two external spout-holes, the Sperm Whale only one.

Look your last now, on these venerable hooded heads, while they yet lie together; for one will soon sink, unrecorded, in the sea; the other will not be very long in following.

Can you catch the expression of the Sperm Whale’s there?  It is the same he died with, only some of the longer wrinkles in the forehead seem now faded away.  I think his broad brow to be full of a prairie-like placidity, born of a speculative indifference as to death.  But mark the other head’s expression.  See that amazing lower lip, pressed by accident against the vessel’s side, so as firmly to embrace the jaw.  Does not this whole head seem to speak of an enormous practical resolution in facing death?  This Right Whale I take to have been a Stoic; the Sperm Whale, a Platonian, who might have taken up Spinoza in his latter years.

CHAPTER 76

The Battering-Ram

Ere quitting, for the nonce, the Sperm Whale’s head, I would have you, as a sensible physiologist, simply—­particularly remark its front aspect, in all its compacted collectedness.  I would have you investigate it now with the sole view of forming to yourself some unexaggerated, intelligent estimate of whatever battering-ram power may be lodged there.  Here is a vital point; for you must either satisfactorily settle this matter with yourself, or for ever remain an infidel as to one of the most appalling, but not the less true events, perhaps anywhere to be found in all recorded history.

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