Though our new-made foretopman was well recievedreceived in the top and on the gun-decks, hardly here was he that cynosure he had previously been among those minor ship's companies of the merchant marine, with which companies only had he hitherto consorted.
He was young; and despite his all but fully developed frame in aspect looked even younger than he really was, oweingowing to a lingering adolescent expression in the as yet smooth face all but feminine in purity of natural complexion but where, thanks to his seagoing, the lily was quite suppressed and the rose had some ado visablyvisibly to flush through the tan.
To one essentially such a novice in the complexities of factitious life, the abrupt transition from his former and simpler sphere to the ampler and more knowing world of a great war-ship; this might well have abashed him had there been any concietconceit or vanity in his composition. Among her miscellaniousmiscellaneous multitude, the IndomitableIndomitable] See note on Indomitable in Chapter 1. mustered several individuals who however inferior in grade were of no common natural stamp, sailors more signally susceptive of that air which continuous martial discipline and repeated prescencepresence in battle can in some degree impart even to the average man. As the handsome sailor Billy Budd's position aboard the seventy-four was something analagousanalogous to that of a rustic beautyrustic beauty] An earlier version is "rustic belle." Click on the associated MS leaf thumbnail, and then click on "Sequences for Leaf" for the Revision Narratives explaining Melville's revisions at this site. transplanted from the provinces and brought into competition with the high born dames of the court. But this change of circumstanceschange of circumstances] HM clarified his original "this" to "this alteration" before settling on "this change of circumstances." Click on the associated MS leaf thumbnail, and then click on "Sequences for Leaf" for the Revision Narratives explaining Melville's revisions at this site. he scarce noted. As little did he observe that something about him provoked an ambiguous smile in one or two harder faces among the blue-jackets. Nor less unaware was he of the peculiar favorable effect his person and demeanor had upon the more intelligent gentlemangentlemengentleman] HM originally wrote "officers of the quarterdeck" then revised first to "quarter-deck officers," and then again to "gentleman of the quarter-deck," inadvertently shifting from the plural "officers" to the singular "gentleman." Since HM clearly intends the plural, and since the singular would erroneously put only one person on the quarter-deck, and confuse the reader, MEL emends to "gentlemen." of the quarter-deck. Nor could this well have been otherwise. Cast in a mouldmould] Meaning the form, shape, or physique of something or someone, "mould" was a current usage into the 20th century. HS emends to "mold"; MEL and NN retain HM's spelling. peculiar to the finest physical examples of those Englishmen in whom the Saxon strain would seem not at all to partake of any Norman or other admixture, he showed in face that humane look of reposeful good nature which the Greek sculptor in some instances gave to his heroic strngstrong man, Hercules. But this again was subtly modified by another and pervasive quality. The ear, small and shapely, the arch of the foot, the curve in mouth and nostril, even the indurated hand dyed to the orange-tawny of the toucan's bill, a hand telling alike of the halyards and tar-bucket; but, above all, something in the mobile expression, and every chance attitude and movement, something suggestive of a mother eminently favored by Love and the Graces; all this strangely indicated a lineage in direct contraditioncontradiction to his lot. The mysteriousness here,herehere] Melville originally wrote "here, however," but in deleting "however," he neglected to remove the comma after "here." Since this remnant comma is confusing, MEL removes it. became less mysterious throghthrough a matter-of-factmatter-of-fact] HM's hyphenation creates what might be read as a compound adjective (without a noun), whereas an unhyphenated noun—"matter of fact"—seems called for. A copy-editor would probably remove the hyphens. However, HM's unusual usage works as a compound noun, and since the hyphens do not seriously confuse the reader, MEL retains HM's original. elicited when Billy at the capstancapstan] In Chapter 1, HM revised "capstan" to the spelling typical of the novella's period— "capstain"—especially as it is spoken by a character, Captain Graveling, of this period. Here, however, HM's use of the conventional spelling indicates the modern era in which the narrator tells the tale. MEL keeps each spelling as it occurs. was being formally mustered into the service. Asked by the officer, a small brisk little gentleman as it chanced (no comma in MS)chanced,chanced,] MEL adds the comma to help readers navigate Melville's tortuous sentence structure that separates predicate from object with three diversionary phrases. among other questions, his place of birth, he replyedreplied, "Please, Sir, I do'ntdon't know."
"Do'ntDon't know where you were born?—Who was your father? (no quotation mark in MS)father?"
"God knows, Sir."
Struck by the straightforward simplicity of these replies, the officer next asked (no comma in MS)asked, "Do you know anything about your beginning?"
"No, Sir. But I have heard that I was found in a pretty silk-lined basketsilk-lined basket ] HM's original phrasing was "a basket of oakum," signaling a different background for Billy. Click on the associated MS leaf thumbnail, and then click on "Sequences for Leaf" for the Revision Narratives explaining Melville's revisions at this site. hanging one morning from the knocker of a good man's door in Bristol[quote] (no period in MS)Bristol."
"Found say you? Well," throwing back his head and looking up and down the new recruit; "Well (no comma in MS)Well, it turns out to have been a pretty good find. Hope they'll find some more like you, my man; the fleet sadly needs them."
Yes, Billy Budd was a foundling, a presumable bye-blow, and, evidently, no ignoble one. Noble descent was as evident in him as in a blood horse.
For the rest, with little or no sharpness of faculty or any trace of the wisdom of the serpent, nor yet quite a dove, he possessed that kind and degree of intelligence going along with the unconventional rectitude of a sound human creature, one to whom not yet has been proffered the questionable apple of knowledge. He was illiterate; he could not read, but he could sing, and like the illiterate nightingale was sometimes the composer of his own song.
Of self-consciousness he seemed to have little or none, or about as much as we may reasonably impute to a dog of Saint Bernard's breed (no period in MS)breed.
Habitually living wthwith the elements and knowing little more of the land than as a beach, or, rather, that portion of the terraqueous globe providentially set apart for dance-houses (no comma in MS)dance-houses, doxies and tapsters, in short what sailors call a "fidlers'fiddlers' greenfiddlers' green] HM varied the orthography of this expression for a mythic afterlife of perpetual music and gaiety. Here, the words are unhyphenated. In the next sentence, he hyphenates, inadvertently adding a second hyphen. MEL retains both unhyphenated and hyphenated forms.," his simple nature remained unsophisticated by those moral obliquties obliquities which are not in every case incompatableincompatible with that manufacturable thing known as respectability. But are sailors, frequenters of "fiddlers'--greens (two hyphens in MS)fiddlers'-greens," without vices? No; but less often than with landsmen do their vices, so called, partake of crookedness of heart, seeming less to proceed from viciousness than exuberance of vitality after long constraint: frank manifestations in accordance with natural law. By his original constitution aided by the cooperating influncesinfluences of his lot, Billy in many respects was little more than a sort of upright barbarian, much such perhaps as Adam presumably might have been ere the urbane Serpent wriggled himself into his company.
And here be it submitted that apparently going to corroborate the doctrine of man's fall, a doctrine now popularly ignored, it is observable that where certain virtues pristine and unadulterate peculiarly characterize anybody in the external uniform of civilization, they will upon scrutiny seem not to be derived from custom or convention, but rather to be out of keeping with these, as if indeed exceptionally transmitted from a period prior to Cain's city and citified man. The character marked by such qualities has to an unvitiated taste an untampered-with flavor like that of berries, while the man thoroughly civilized even in a fair specimen of the breed has to the same moral palletpalatepalate] Originally, HM wrote "pallet," which is a kind of makeshift bed, intending, however, its homonym "palate," a metonymic term for an appreciation for taste (generally in wines). Given the context of the passage, MEL emends to "palate." a questionable smack as of a compounded wine. To any stray inheritor of of ofof] In revising this passage, HM inadvertently inscribed "of of," which MEL emends to "of." these primitive qualities found, like Caspar Hauser, wandering dazed in any Christian capital of our time (no comma in MS)time,time,] MEL adds the comma to set off the lengthy introductory prepositional phrase. the good-natured poet's famous invocation, near two thousand years ago, of the good rustic out of his latitude in the Rome of the Cesars still (misspelled, with no comma in MS)Caesars, stillCaesars, still] HM originally wrote "in pagan Rome, still appropriately holds." Later, he deleted "pagan" and revised to "in the Rome, of the Cesars," misspelling "Caesars" and neglecting to reposition the comma after "Caesars." MEL's emendations rectify the spelling and comma placement. appropriatlyappropriately holds:—
Honest and poor, [quote]FaithfulFaithfulFaithful] Initially, HM began his quotation from Martial's sarcastic address to the aristocratic Roman historian Fabian—who was neither honest nor poor—in mid-line, capitalizing "Faithful." Later, in pencil, he quotes the full line by adding "Honest and poor," which precedes "Faithful" in Martial's original. He then deleted "Honest and poor" and then again restored the phrase. In this revision process, HM does not de-capitalize "Faithful." HS and NN emend to the lower case "faithful." Aiming to represent HM's manuscript inscription accurately and assuming the capitalization of "Faithful" might have been intended, MEL does not emend. (NN also capitalizes "thee" in the following line; MEL retains HM's original lower case spelling.) in word and thought
What has thee, Fabian, to the city brought.[quote]brought.
Though our Handsome Sailor had as much of masculine beauty as one can expect anywhere to see; nevertheless, like the beautiful woman in one of Hawthorne's minor tales, there was just one thing amiss in him. No visible blemish indeed, as with the lady; no, but an occasional liability to a vocal defect. Though in the hour of elemental uproar or peril, he was everything that a sailor should be, yet under sudden provocation of strong heart-feeling his voice otherwise singularly musical, as if expressive of the harmony within, was apt to develop an organic hesitancy, in fact more or less of a stutter or even worse (no period in MS)worse. In this particular Billy was a striking instance that the arch interferer, the envious marplot of Eden (no comma in MS)Eden, still has more or less to do with every human consignment to this planet of earth. In every case, one way or another he is sure to slip in his little card, as much as to remind us—I too have a hand here.
The avowal of such an imperfection in the Handsome Sailor should be evidence not alone that he is not presented as a conventional hero, but also that the story in which he is the main figure is no romance.