Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
biscuit of the whale-ship luckily dropping an anchor in their waters.  The uncounted isles of all Polynesia confess the same truth, and do commercial homage to the whale-ship, that cleared the way for the missionary and the merchant, and in many cases carried the primitive missionaries to their first destinations.  If that double-bolted land, Japan, is ever to become hospitable, it is the whale-ship alone to whom the credit will be due; for already she is on the threshold.

But if, in the face of all this, you still declare that whaling has no aesthetically noble associations connected with it, then am I ready to shiver fifty lances with you there, and unhorse you with a split helmet every time.

The whale has no famous author, and whaling no famous chronicler, you will say.

The whale no famous author, and whaling no famous chronicler?  Who wrote the first account of our Leviathan?  Who but mighty Job?  And who composed the first narrative of a whaling-voyage?  Who, but no less a prince than Alfred the Great, who, with his own royal pen, took down the words from Other, the Norwegian whale-hunter of those times!  And who pronounced our glowing eulogy in Parliament?  Who, but Edmund Burke!

True enough, but then whalemen themselves are poor devils; they have no good blood in their veins.

No good blood in their veins?  They have something better than royal blood there.  The grandmother of Benjamin Franklin was Mary Morrel; afterwards, by marriage, Mary Folger, one of the old settlers of Nantucket, and the ancestress to a long line of Folgers and harpooneers—­all kith and kin to noble Benjamin—­ this day darting the barbed iron from one side of the world to the other.

Good again; but then all confess that somehow whaling is not respectable.

Whaling not respectable?  Whaling is imperial!  By old English statutory law, the whale is declared “a royal fish.”

Oh, that’s only nominal!  The whale himself has never figured in any grand imposing way.

The whale never figured in any grand imposing way?  In one of the mighty triumphs given to a Roman general upon his entering the world’s capital, the bones of a whale, brought all the way from the Syrian coast, were the most conspicuous object in the cymballed procession.*

See subsequent chapters for something more on this head.

Grant it, since you cite it; but say what you will, there is no real dignity in whaling.

No dignity in whaling?  The dignity of our calling the very heavens attest.  Cetus is a constellation in the South!  No more!  Drive down your hat in presence of the Czar, and take it off to Queequeg!  No more!  I know a man that, in his lifetime has taken three hundred and fifty whales.  I account that man more honorable than that great captain of antiquity who boasted of taking as many walled towns.

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Moby Dick: or, the White Whale from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.