Chapters

Chapter 13 Chapter 13 Passion, and passion in its profoundest, is not a thing demanding aa] a a. HM accidentally included a second "a" in the superlinear addition. palatial stage whereon to play its part. downDown among the groundlings, among the beggars and rakers of the garbage, profound passion is enacted. And the circumstances that provoke it, however trivial or mean, are no measure of its power. In the present instance the stage is a scrubbed gun-deck, and one of the external provocations a man-of-war's-man's spilled soup. Now when the Master-at-arms noticed whence came that greasy fluid streaming before his feet, he must have taken it—to some extent wilfully, perhaps—not for the mere accident it assuredly was, but for the sly escape of a spontaneous feeling on Billy's part more or less answering to the antipathy on his own. In effect a foolish demonstration, he must have thought, and very harmless, like the futile kick of a heifer, which yet were heifer ("the" in MS deleted)the heiferheifer] Melville wrote "the cow" first, crossed out the phrase, wrote "heifer" above the line, crossed it out, then restored it, not thinking to restore his deleted "the." a shod stallion, would not be so harmless. Even so was it that into the gall of Claggart's envy he infused the vitriol of his contempt. But Thethe incident confirmed to him certain tell-tale reports purveyed to his ear by Squeak, one of his more cunning Corporals, aa] a a (MS). HM accidentally added an extra "a" in his superlinear insertion in the next line. MEL deletes the unnecessary "a." grizzled little man, so nicknamed by the sailors on account of his squeaky voice, and sharp visage ferreting about the dark corners of the lower decks after interlopers, satirically suggesting to them the idea of a rat in a cellar. From his Chief's employing him as an implicit tool in laying little traps for the worriment of the Foretopman,—for it was from the Master-at-arms that the petty persecutions heretofore adverted to had proceeded—the Corporal having naturally enough concluded that his master could have no love for the sailor, made it his business, faithful understrapperunderstrapper] Originally in MS, HM had set off the appositive phrase "faithful understrapper" with commas. However, when he later inserted "that he was," above the line, he did not delete the now-unnecessary original comma after "understrapper." Because it creates a confusion, MEL removes the unnecessary comma. that he was, to foment the ill blood by perverting to his Chief certain innocent frolics of the good natured Foretopman, besides inventing for his mouth sundry contumelious epithets he claimed to have overheard himoverheard him] overheard. him (MS) let fall. The Master-at-arms never suspected the veracity of these reports, more especially as to the epithets, for he well knew how secretly unpopular may become a master-at-arms (no comma in MS)master-at-arms, at least a master-at-arms of those days zealous in his function, and how the blue-jackets shoot at him in private their raillery and wit; the nickname by which he goes among them (Jimmy Legs) implying under the form of merriment their cherished disrespect and dislike. But in view of the greediness of hate for pabulum it hardly needed a purveyor to feed Claggart's passion. An uncommon prudence is habitual with the subtler depravity, for it has everything to hide. And in case of an injury but suspected, its secretivnesssecretiveness voluntarily cuts it off from enlightenment or disillusion; and, not unreluctantly, action is taken upon surmise as upon certainty. And the retaliation is apt to be in monstrous disproportion to the supposed offence; for when in anybody was revenge in its exactions aught else but an inordinate usurer.usurer? But how with Claggart's conscinceconscience? for thothough consciences are unlike as foreheads, every intelligence, not excluding the Scriptural devils who "believe and tremble," has one. But Claggart's conscience being but the lawyer to his will, made ogres of trifles, probably arguing that the motive imputed to Billy in spilling the soup just when he did, together with the epithets alleged, these, if nothing more, made a strong case against him; nay, justified animosity into a sort of retributive righteousness. The Pharisee isMEL restores HM's deleted "is": he considered "being" but also deleted that, leaving no alternative reading. the Guy FawksFawks] MEL retains HM's misspelling of Fawkes. prowling in the hid chambers underlying Claggart. And theyunderlying Claggart. And they] Melville writes "underlying some natures like Claggart's. And they" indicating that "they" refers to "some natures." But he deleted "some natures like" and the "'s" in "Claggart's," then inserted "the" to read "underlying the Claggart." HS and NN restore "some natures like Claggart's." MEL deletes "the" so that the passage reads "underlying Claggart." But now "they" in the next sentence is ambiguous, "some natures" having been deleted. MEL recognizes the ambiguity but retains Melville's wording, which establishes an analogy between "Guy Fawks" and "Claggart." can really form no conception of an unreciprocated malice. Probably, the master-at-arms' clandestine persecution of Billy werewNote text: was] Melville wrote "were" although he used a singular subject "persecution." ereNote text: were] Melville wrote "were" although he used a singular subject "persecution." HS and NN emend it to "was." MEL reads the "were" as possibly in the subjunctive and retains it. started to try the temper of the man; but it had not developed any quality in him that enmity could make official use of or even pervert into even plausible self-justification; so that the occurrence at the mess, petty if it were, was a welcome one to that peculiar conscience assigned to be the private mentorprivate mentor] Melville deleted this phrase, but the sentence makes little sense without it. MEL follows HS and NN in restoring it. of Claggart. And,Claggart. And] Claggart; And (MS). Melville penciled this final, apparently unfinished, sentence. for the rest, not improbably it put him upon new experiments.