Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harborless immensities. Ere that come to pass; ere the Pequod’s weedy hull rolls side by side with the barnacled hullsbarnacled hulls: barnacles live on the bodies of some whales. of the leviathan; at the outset it is but well to attend to a matter almost indispensable to a thorough appreciative understanding of the more special leviathanic revelationsleviathanic revelations and allusions of all sorts which are to follow: Cetology is the zoological study of whales (Cetacea). Although Melville gives the impression of being deeply learned in this “leviathanic” subject, he actually reworked factual material from the long scholarly entry on “Whales” in the Penny Cyclopaedia, which gave him the names of his whaling authorities and provided other details essential to Ch. 32, as well as to his other literary explorations of the whale throughout Moby-Dick. For this chapter, he also read or consulted primary sources, as explained in Vincent, Trying out of Moby-Dick (135–42), and Mansfield and Vincent's edition of Moby-Dick (672–74). and allusions of all sorts which are to follow.
It is some systematized exhibition of the whale in his broad genera, that I would now fain put before you. Yet is it no easy task. The classification of the constituents of a chaos, nothing less is here essayedessayed: Attempted; from the French essayer to try; compare to the whaling term “try out,” which means to boil down or extract. In “essaying,” Ishmael is not only trying to find meaning, he is writing an essay or writing essayistically in order to extract the essential meaning of whales. Ch. 32 is the first of many such chapters that are essentially essays rather than narratives.. Listen to what the best and latest authorities have laid down.
“No branch of Zoology is so much involved as that which is entitled Cetology,” says Captain ScoresbyCaptain Scoresby, A. D. 1820: William Scoresby (1789-1857) published An Account of the Arctic Regions, with a History and Description of the Northern Whale Fishery in 1820. However, Melville found this quotation and the three following ones in The Natural History of the Sperm Whale by Thomas Beale (1807-1849)., A. D. 1820.
“It is not my intention, were it in my power, to enter into the inquiry as to the true method of dividing the cetacea into groups and families. * * * Utter confusion exists among the historians of this animal” (sperm whale), says Surgeon Beale, A. D. 1839.
“Unfitness to pursue our research in the unfathomable waters.” “Impenetrable veil covering our knowledge of the cetacea.” “A field strewn with thorns.” “All these incomplete indications but serve to torture us naturalists.”
Thus speak of the whale, the great Cuvier, and John Hunter, and Lesson, those lights of zoology and anatomy. Nevertheless, though of real knowledge there be little, yet of books there are a plenty; and so in some small degree, with cetology, or the science of whales. Many are the men, small and great, old and new, landsmen and seamen, who have at large or in little, written of the whale. Run over a fewRun over a few: Joseph C. Hart wrote Miriam Coffin; or, The Whale-Fishermen (1834). Melville found some of the authors in this long list under “Whales” in the Penny Cyclopaedia, his source for much of the information and some of the language in Ch. 32. See Melville’s Sources for full citations. Those not listed in there are Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522–1605); seventeenth-century English naturalist John Ray; sixteenth-century French naturalist Rondeletius (Guillaume Rondelet); Francis Willoughby, who collaborated with Ray; eighteenth-century Swedish icthyologist Peter Artedi; eighteenth-century French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson; eighteenth-century French cetologist Joseph-Pierre Bonnaterre; French naturalist and cetologist Frédéric Cuvier (1773–1838); and contemporary English anatomist Sir Richard Owen. (For Marten, see Frederich Martens.):—The Authors of the Bible; Aristotle; Pliny; Aldrovandi; Sir Thomas Browne; Gesner; Ray; Linnæus; Rondeletius; Willoughby; Green; Artedi; Sibbald; Brisson; Marten; Lacépède; Bonnaterre; Desmarest; Baron Cuvier; Frederick Cuvier; John Hunter; Owen; Scoresby; Beale; Bennett; J. Ross Browne; the Author of Miriam Coffin; Olmsted; and the Rev. Henry T. CheeverRev. Henry T. Cheever: Both American and British editions give "Rev. T. Cheever." Since Cheever's full name, as author of The Whale and His Captors, is given in Extracts as "Rev. Henry T. Cheever," the name "Henry" was presumably dropped in the American and not corrected in the British. The editors of the NN Moby-Dick make the correction, and since "T. Cheever" is misleading, Longman also emends, as does MEL.. But to what ultimate generalizing purpose all these have written, the above cited extracts will show.
Of the names in this list of whale authors, only those following Owen ever saw living whales; and but one of them was a real professional harpooneer and whaleman. I mean Captain
Scoresby. On the separate subject of the Greenland or right-whaleGreenland or right-whale: so-called because it was the “right one” to hunt., he is the best existing authority. But Scoresby knew nothing and says nothing of the great sperm whale, compared with which the Greenland whale is almost unworthy mentioning. And here be it said, that the Greenland whale is an usurper upon the throne of the seas. He is not even by any means the largest of the whales. Yet, owing to the long priority of his claims, and the profound ignorance which, till some seventy years back, invested the then fabulous or utterly unknown sperm-whale, and which ignorance to this present day still reigns in all but some few scientific retreats and whale-ports; this usurpation has been every way complete. Reference to nearly all the leviathanic allusions in the great poets of past days, will satisfy you that the Greenland whale, without one rival, was to them the monarch of the seas. But the time has at last come for a new proclamation. This is Charing CrossCharing Cross: old London city center where new monarchs were proclaimed.; hear ye! good people all,—the Greenland whale is deposed,—the great sperm whale now reigneth!
There are only two books in being which at all pretend to put the living sperm whale before you, and at the same time, in the remotest degree succeed in the attempt. Those books are Beale’s and Bennett’s; both in their time surgeons to English South-Sea whale-ships, and both exact and reliable men. The original matter touching the sperm whale to be found in their volumes is necessarily small; but so far as it goes, it is of excellent quality, though mostly confined to scientific description. As yet, however, the sperm whale, scientific or poetic, lives not complete in any literature. Far above all other hunted whales, his is an unwritten life.
Now the various species of whales need some sort of popular comprehensive classification, if only an easy outline one for the present, hereafter to be filled in all its departments by subsequent laborers. As no better man advances to take this matter in hand, I hereupon offer my own poor endeavors. I promise nothing complete; because any human thing supposed to be complete, must for that very reason infallibly be faulty. I shall not pretend to a minute anatomical description of the various species, or—in this place at least—to much of any description. My object here is simply to project the draught of aI shall not pretend . . . to much of any description. My object here is simply to project a draught of a systematization of cetology.: In the British edition, this introductory statement has been cut to “I shall not pretend . . . to much of any [. . .] systemization of cetology.” Because the removed words fit a single line of type in the American edition (with the word “a” appearing at the beginning of the following line), the deletion may have been due to an “eyeskip,” in which the British typesetter, working from the revised copy of the American edition that Melville had sent to England, skipped a full line of the text he was attempting to copy. Another possibility has to do with the word “draught” (pronounced draft), meaning a sketch or one of any number of attempts at writing. In this scenario, Melville might have deleted the line because its phrasing—“the draught of a systemization”—anticipates and (perhaps) diminishes the impact of the chapter’s famous, concluding line: “This whole book is but a draught—nay, but the draught of a draught.” To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin. systematization of cetology. I am the architect, not the builder.
But it is a ponderous task; no ordinary letter-sorter in the Post-office is equal to it. To grope down into the bottom of the sea after them; to have one’s hands among the unspeakable foundations, ribs, and very pelvis of the worldfoundations . . . of the world: This phrase and “foundations of the earth” occur frequently in the Bible, as, for example, in Psalms 18, 82, and 104. The phrase “this world’s foundations” also appears in Ch. 70.; this is a fearful thing. What am I that I should essay to hook the nose of this leviathan! The awful tauntings in Job might well appal me. “Will he (the leviathan) make a covenant with thee? Behold the hope of him is vain!”“Will he (the leviathan) make a covenant with thee? Behold the hope of him is vain!”: Job 41:4, and slightly variant in 41:9. The first fourteen verses in Job 41 contain the “awful tauntings” mentioned in the preceding sentence. At the end of Moby-Dick’s Ch. 41, Ahab’s quarry is called a “Job’s whale.” But I have swam through libraries and sailed through oceans; I have had to do with whales with these visible hands; I am in earnest; and I will try. There are some preliminaries to settle.
First: The uncertain, unsettled condition of this science of Cetology is in the very vestibule attested by the fact, that in some quarters it still remains a moot point whether a whale be a fish. In his System of Nature, A. D. 1776,In his System of Nature, A.D. 1776: Melville's publication date for Linnaeus's Systema Naturae is inaccurate and has vexed some editors. Linnaeus first published a version of Systema Naturae as a pamphlet in 1735; the pamphlet grew into a multivolume work, with its tenth edition appearing in 1758. His last edition, appearing in 1766–68, provided a taxonomy for animals. That said, Melville derived the details and quotations from Linnaeus in this chapter largely from the Penny Cyclopaedia article on “Whales,” which cites the 1766 edition. The editors of the NN Moby-Dick treat Melville’s “1776” date as a typo and change it to the Penny Cyclopaedia source date, “1766.” However, since “Cetology” is something of a declaration of independence from systemization, Melville’s “1776” may well be an intended joke. In keeping with its policy of not correcting Melville’s errors unless they might confuse readers, MEL makes no change. Linnæus declaresLinnæus declares: Carl von Linné (1707–1778), pioneering Swedish botanist, who developed the system of binomial nomenclature (genus, species) for the classification of plants and animals, wrote under the Latinized name Linnæus, and published Systema Naturae, in increasingly expanded editions, from 1735 to 1768., “I hereby separate the whales from the fish.” But of my own knowledge, I know that down to the year 1850, sharks and shad, alewives and herring, against Linnæus’s express edict, were still found dividing the possession of the same seas with the Leviathan.
The grounds upon which Linnæus would fain have banished the whales from the waters, he states as follows: “On account of their warm bilocular heart, their lungs, their movable eyelids, their hollow ears, penem intrantem feminam mammis lactantem,” and finally, “ex lege naturæ jure meritoque“On account of their warm bilocular heart, . . . penem intrantem feminam mammis lactantem,” . . . “ex lege naturæ jure meritoque.”: as quoted in the Penny Cyclopaedia; bilocular means two-chambered; the Latin reads, “a penis that enters the female, who gives milk from teats,” and, “by the law of nature, justly and deservedly.”." I submitted all this to my friends Simeon Macey and Charley CoffinSimeon Macey and Charley Coffin: invented men with typical Nantucket names., of Nantucket, both messmates of mine in a certain voyage, and they united in the opinion that the reasons set forth were altogether insufficient. Charley profanely hinted they were humbug.
Be it known that, waiving all argument, I take the good old fashioned ground that the whale is a fish, and call upon holy Jonahcall upon holy Jonah to back me: "holy Jonah" may refer to the Bible's Book of Jonah or the book's putative author, the prophet. Either way, Ishmael's facetious appeal to "old-fashioned" biblical thinking is a spoof on the rationality of science. Father Mapple’s sermon in Ch. 9 retells Jonah's story. to back me. This fundamental thing settled, the next point is, in what internal respect does the whale differ from other fish. Above, Linnæus has given you those items. But in brief, they are these: lungs and warm blood; whereas, all other fish are lungless and cold blooded.
Next: how shall we define the whale, by his obvious externals, so as conspicuously to label him for all time to come? To be short, then, a whale is a spouting fish with a horizontal tail. There you have him. However contracted, that definition is the result of expanded meditation. A walrus spouts much like a whale, but the walrus is not a fish, because he is amphibious. But the last term of the definition is still more cogent, as coupled with the first. Almost any one must have noticed that all the fish familiar to landsmen have not a flat, but a vertical, or up-and-down tail. Whereas, among spouting fish the tail, though it may be similarly shaped, invariably assumes a horizontal position.
By the above definition of what a whale is, I do by no means exclude from the leviathanic brotherhood any sea creature hitherto identified with the whale by the best informed Nantucketers; nor, on the other hand, link with it any fish hitherto authoritatively regarded as alien.* Hence, all the smaller, spouting, and horizontal tailed fish must be included in
* [Melville's Note] I am aware that down to the present time, the fish styled Lamantins and DugongsLamantins and Dugongs: manatees; Bennett, for one, included them. (Pig-fish and Sow-fish of the Coffins of Nantucket) are included by many naturalists among the whales. But as these pig-fish are a nosy, contemptible set, mostly lurking in the mouths of rivers, and feeding on wet hay, and especially as they do not spout, I deny their credentials as whales; and have presented them with their passports to quit the Kingdom of Cetology.
this ground-plan of Cetology. Now, then, come the grand divisions of the entire whale host.
First: According to magnitude I divide the whales into three primary BOOKS (subdivisible into Chapters), and these shall comprehend them all, both small and large.
I. The Folio Whale; II. the Octavo Whale; III. the Duodecimo Whale Folio . . . Octavo . . . Duodecimo: Bibliographical terms for standard sizes of books, based on the foldings of a single sheet of paper. However, Ishmael omits the second largest size, the “Quarto.” Melville’s footnote on his facetio0us whale-as-book classification system (below) explains his omission..
As the typetype: model or epitome. of the Folio I present the Sperm Whale; of the Octavo, the Grampus; of the Duodecimo, the Porpoise.
FOLIOS. Among these I here include the following chapters:—I. The Sperm Whale; II. the Right Whale; III. the Fin Back Whale; IV. the Hump-backed Whale; V. the Razor Back Whale; VI. the Sulphur Bottom Whale.
BOOK I. (Folio), Chapter I. (Sperm Whale).—This whale, among the English of old vaguely known as the Trumpa whale, and the Physeter whale, and the Anvil Headed whale, is the present Cachalot of the French, and the Pottfisch of the Germans, and the Macrocephalus of the Long WordsTrumpa whale . . . Physeter whale . . . Macrocephalus of the Long Words: Trumpa is from the French for “spout”; Physeter (Linnæus’s term) is Greek for “blower”; the German Pottfisch is literally “pot fish”; Macrocephalus is Greek for “large head”; the Long Words are scientific pedants, satirized here and in other chapters.. He is, without doubt, the largest inhabitantlargest inhabitant of the globe: The blue whale and fin whale are actually larger than the sperm whale, but Ishmael’s facetious classification system allows him to make the sperm whale the largest, and more mythic. of the globe; the most formidable of all whales to encounter; the most majestic in aspect; and lastly, by far the most valuable in commerce; he being the only creature from which that valuable substance, spermaceti, is obtained. All his peculiarities will, in many other places, be enlarged upon. It is chiefly with his name that I now have to do. Philosophically considered, it is absurd. Some centuries ago, when the Sperm whale was almost wholly unknown in his own proper individuality, and when his oil was only accidentally obtained from the stranded fish; in those days spermaceti, it would seem, was popularly supposed to be derived from a creature identical with the one then known in England as the Greenland or Right Whale. It was the idea also, that this same spermaceti was that quickening humorquickening humor: life-giving fluid; here, whale semen. of the Greenland Whale which the first syllable of the word literally expresses. In those times, also, spermaceti was ex-ceedingly scarce, not being used for light, but only as an ointment and medicament. It was only to be had from the druggists as you nowadays buy an ounce of rhubarbrhubarb: a laxative.. When, as I opine, in the course of time, the true nature of spermaceti became known, its original name was still retained by the dealers; no doubt to enhance its value by a notion so strangely significant of its scarcity. And so the appellation must at last have come to be bestowed upon the whale from which this spermaceti was really derived.
BOOK I. (Folio), Chapter II. (Right Whale).—In one respect this is the most venerable of the leviathans, being the one first regularly hunted by man. It yields the article commonly known as whalebone or baleenwhalebone or baleen: See Ch. 75 for a description of these fringed plates in the mouth with which the whale strains its food from seawater; they are not bone but are made of keratin, the main component of teeth and hair.; and the oil specially known as “whale oil,” an inferior article in commerce. Among the fishermen, he is indiscriminately designated by all the following titles: The Whale; the Greenland Whale; the Black Whale; the Great Whale; the True Whale; the Right Whale. There is a deal of obscurity concerning the identity of the species thus multitudinously baptized. What then is the whale, which I include in the second species of my Folios? It is the Great MysticetusMysticetus: Used by Linnæus, derived from Aristotle, and meaning “moustached sea-monster.” of the English naturalists; the Greenland Whale of the English whalemen; the Baleine OrdinaireBaleine Ordinaire: common whale. of the French whalemen; the Gronlands Walfisk of the Swedes. It is the whale which for more than two centuries past has been hunted by the Dutch and English in the Arctic seas; it is the whale which the American fishermen have long pursued in the Indian ocean, on the Brazil BanksBrazil Banks: the large elevated area of the sea floor, rich in fish and other marine life, off Brazil; see also note in Ch. 58., on the Nor’ West Coast Nor’ West Coast: Northwestern coast of North America., and various other parts of the world, designated by them Right Whale Cruising Grounds.
Some pretend to see a difference between the Greenland whale of the English and the right whale of the Americans. But they precisely agree in all their grand features; nor has there yet been presented a single determinate fact upon which to ground a radical distinction. It is by endless subdivisions based upon the most inconclusive differences, that some departments of natural history become so repellingly intricate. The right whale will be elsewhere treatedThe right whale will be elsewhere treated: see Ch. 75. of at some length, with reference to elucidating the sperm whale.
BOOK I. (Folio), Chapter iii. (Fin-Back).—Under this head I reckon a monster which, by the various names of Fin-Back, Tall-Spout, and Long-John, has been seen almost in every sea and is commonly the whale whose distant jet is so often descried by passengers crossing the Atlantic, in the New York packet-trackspacket-tracks: routes sailed by swift ships carrying passengers, merchandise, and mail.. In the length he attains, and in his baleen, the Fin-back resembles the right whale, but is of a less portly girth, and a lighter color, approaching to olive. His great lips present a cable-like aspect, formed by the intertwisting, slanting folds of large wrinkles. His grand distinguishing feature, the fin, from which he derives his name, is often a conspicuous object. This fin is some three or four feet long, growing vertically from the hinder part of the back, of an angular shape, and with a very sharp pointed end. Even if not the slightest other part of the creature be visible, this isolated fin will, at times, be seen plainly projecting from the surface. When the sea is moderately calm, and slightly marked with spherical ripples, and this gnomon-likegnomon-like: like the vertical part of a sundial; same as “style,” below. fin stands up and casts shadows upon the wrinkled surface, it may well be supposed that the watery circle surrounding it somewhat resembles a dial, with its stylestyle: see “gnomon,” above. and wavy hour-lines gravedgraved: engraved. on it. On that Ahaz-dialAhaz-dial: In Isaiah 38.8, the shadow on the sundial of Ahaz, idol-worshipping king of Judah, goes backward. Ishmael is saying that the whale’s motions make the shadow move erratically. the shadow often goes back. The Fin-Back is not gregarious. He seems a whale-hater, as some men are man-haters. Very shy; always going solitary; unexpectedly rising to the surface in the remotest and most sullen waters; his straight and single lofty jet rising like a tall misanthropic spear upon a barren plain; gifted with such wondrous power and velocity in swimming, as to defy all present pursuit from man; this leviathan seems the banished and unconquerable CainCain: Placing a protective mark on Cain to indicate that vengeance is His alone, God banished him for killing his brother, Abel (Genesis 4.15–16). of his race, bearing for his mark that style upon his back. From having the baleen in his mouth, the Fin-Back is sometimes included with the right whale, among a theoretic species denominated Whalebone whales, that is, whales with baleen. Of these so called Whalebone whales, there would seem to be several varieties, most of which, however, are little known. Broad-nosed whales and beaked whales; pike-headed whales; bunched whales; under-jawed whales and rostrated whalespike-headed whales; bunched whales; under-jawed whales and rostrated whales: The four whale adjectives, in order, mean pointed like the weapon called a pike; humped; with a protruding lower jaw; and with a long beak or snout., are the fishermen’s names for a few sorts.
In connexion with this appellativeappellative: name. of “Whalebone whales,” it is of great importance to mention, that however such a nomenclature may be convenient in facilitating allusions to some kind of whales, yet it is in vain to attempt a clear classification of the Leviathan, founded upon either his baleen, or hump, or fin, or teeth; notwithstanding that those marked parts or features very obviously seem better adapted to afford the basis for a regular system of Cetology than any other detached bodily distinctions, which the whale, in his kinds, presents. How then? The baleen, hump, back-fin, and teeth; these are things whose peculiarities are indiscriminately dispersed among all sorts of whales, without any regard to what may be the nature of their structure in other and more essential particulars. Thus, the sperm whale and the humpbacked whale, each has a hump; but there the similitude ceases. Then, this same humpbacked whale and the Greenland whale, each of these has baleen; but there again the similitude ceases. And it is just the same with the other parts above mentioned. In various sorts of whales, they form such irregular combinations; or, in the case of any one of them detached, such an irregular isolation; as utterly to defy all general methodization formed upon such a basis. On this rock every one of the whale-naturalists has split.
But it may possibly be conceived that, in the internal parts of the whale, in his anatomy—there, at least, we shall be able to hit the right classification. Nay; what thing, for example, is there in the Greenland whale’s anatomy more striking than his baleen? Yet we have seen that by his baleen it is impos-sible correctly to classify the Greenland whale. And if you descend into the bowels of the various leviathans, why there you will not find distinctions a fiftieth part as available to the systematizer as those external ones already enumerated. What then remains? nothing but to take hold of the whales bodily, in their entire liberal volume, and boldly sort them that way. And this is the Bibliographical systemBibliographical system: Explicitly (as if the joke might not already be clear), Ishmael parodies scientific classification by arbitrarily adapting the bibliographic system properly used for books in order to classify whales. here adopted; and it is the only one that can possibly succeed, for it alone is practicable. To proceed.
BOOK I. (Folio), Chapter iv. (Hump Back).—This whale is often seen on the northern American coast. He has been frequently captured there, and towed into harbor. He has a great pack on him like a peddler; or you might call him the Elephant and CastleElephant and Castle: An elephant carrying a large howdah in the shape of a castle, a popular image that appears, for example, on the sign of the old pub that gave its name to a section of London. whale. At any rate, the popular name for him does not sufficiently distinguish him, since the sperm whale also has a hump, though a smaller one. His oil is not very valuable. He has baleen. He is the most gamesome and light-hearted of all the whales, making more gay foam and white water generally than any other of them.
BOOK I. (Folio), Chapter v. (Razor Back).—Of this whale little is known but his name. I have seen him at a distance off Cape Horn. Of a retiring nature, he eludes both hunters and philosophers. Though no coward, he has never yet shown any part of him but his back, which rises in a long sharp ridge. Let him go. I know little more of him, nor does anybody else.
BOOK I. (Folio), Chapter vi. (Sulphur Bottom).—Another retiring gentleman, with a brimstone belly, doubtless got by scraping along the Tartarian tilesTartarian tiles: The so-called Sulphur Bottom whale gets its sulfur-yellow belly from scraping the roof tiles of Tartarus, hell in Greek myth. in some of his profounder divings. He is seldom seen; at least I have never seen him except in the remoter southern seas, and then always at too great a distance to study his countenance. He is never chased; he would run away with rope-walks of linerope-walks of line: rope was manufactured in extremely long, shed-like buildings called rope-walks.. ProdigiesProdigies: wondrous acts. are told of him. Adieu, Sulphur Bottom! I can say nothing more that is true of ye, nor can the oldest Nantucketer.
Thus ends BOOK I. (Folio), and now begins BOOK II. (Octavo).
OCTAVOES.* These embrace the whales of middling magnitude, among which at present may be numbered:—I., the Grampus; II., the Black Fish; III., the Narwhale; IV., the Thrasher; V., the Killer.
BOOK II. (Octavo), Chapter i. (Grampus).—Though this fish, whose loud sonorous breathing, or rather blowing, has furnished a proverb to landsmena proverb to landsmen: “Snores like a grampus” was a common expression., is so well known a denizen of the deep, yet is he not popularly classed among whales. But possessing all the grand distinctive features of the leviathan, most naturalists have recognised him for one. He is of moderate octavo size, varying from fifteen to twenty-five feet in length, and of corresponding dimensions round the waist. He swims in herds; he is never regularly hunted, though his oil is considerable in quantity, and pretty good for light. By some fishermen his approach is regarded as premonitory of the advance of the great sperm whale.
BOOK II. (Octavo), Chapter ii. (Black Fish).—I give the popular fishermen’s names for all these fish, for generally they are the best. Where any name happens to be vague or inexpressive, I shall say so, and suggest another. I do so now, touching the Black Fish, so called, because blackness is the rule among almost all whales. So, call him the Hyena WhaleHyena Whale, if you please: from the supposed grin of the “laughing” Hyena; see also Ch. 49, if you please. His voracity is well known, and from the circumstance that the inner angles of his lips are curved upwards, he carries an everlasting Mephistophelean grinMephistophelean: Devilish; Mephistopheles is a satanic spirit in Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus (1604) and Johann von Goethe’s Faust (1808, 1832). on his face. This whale averages some sixteen or eighteen feet in length. He is found in almost all latitudes. He has a peculiar way of show-
* [Melville's Note] Why this book of whales is not denominated the Quarto is very plain.Why this book of whales is not denominated the Quarto is very plain: "Plain" to a bibliographer or book historian but not necessarily to most modern readers. Bookish Ishmael's dilemma is that while the standard book sizes in book-making decrease in size, the second size—the Quarto—is not proportional to the others. This condition has to do with how a single sheet of paper is folded for each size. In Folio books, a single sheet is folded once to give four pages. Quartos are folded twice to give eight smaller pages, and so on. But the Quarto differs in proportion from the other book-sizes; it is squarish rather than longish. Ishmael's facetious reasoning is that since all sizes of whales have basically the same shape, the Quarto shaped book cannot be an adequate category for the next smaller type of whale, so Ishmael arbitrarily eliminates the category from his already facetiously arbitrary classifications, making his "system" all the less systematic, and all the more comic. Because, while the whales of this order, though smaller than those of the former order, nevertheless retain a proportionate likeness to them in figure, yet the bookbinder’s Quarto volume in its diminished form does not preserve the shape of the Folio volume, but the Octavo volume does.
ing his dorsaldorsal: on the back hooked fin in swimming, which looks something like a Roman nose. When not more profitably employed, the sperm whale hunters sometimes capture the Hyena whale, to keep up the supply of cheap oil for domestic employment—as some frugal housekeepers, in the absence of company, and quite alone by themselves, burn unsavory tallow instead of odorous waxunsavory tallow . . . odorous wax: animal fat smells bad, but wax is fragrant.. Though their blubber is very thin, some of these whales will yield you upwards of thirty gallons of oil.
BOOK II. (Octavo), Chapter iii. (Narwhale), that is, Nostril whaleNostril whale: A fanciful etymology; “nar” is from the Old Norse for corpse (alluding to the whale’s whiteness or white spots). However, assuming that the narwhale’s single tusk had been confused for its nose, Ishmael traces the root to “nares,” Latin for nostrils..—Another instance of a curiously named whale, so named I suppose from his peculiar horn being originally mistaken for a peaked nose. The creature is some sixteen feet in length, while its horn averages five feet, though some exceed ten, and even attain to fifteen feet. Strictly speaking, this horn is but a lengthened tusk, growing out from the jaw in a line a little depressed from the horizontal. But it is only found on the sinister side, which has an ill effect, giving its owner something analogous to the aspect of a clumsy left-handed man. What precise purpose this ivory horn or lance answers, it would be hard to say. It does not seem to be used like the blade of the sword-fish and bill-fishbill-fish: Any of several species, such as marlin and sailfish, whose snout is elongated into a bill, or spear.; though some sailors tell me that the Narwhale employs it for a rake in turning over the bottom of the sea for food. Charley Coffin said it was used for an ice-piercer; for the Narwhale, rising to the surface of the Polar Sea, and finding it sheeted with ice, thrusts his horn up, and so breaks through. But you cannot prove either of these surmises to be correct. My own opinion is, that however this one-sided horn may really be used by the Narwhale—however that may be—it would certainly be very convenient to him for a folderfolder: Paper folder, a smooth bone or ivory desk tool, eight or nine inches long, used for neatly folding sheets of paper, for example, letters. in reading pamphlets. The Narwhale I have heard called the Tusked whale, the Horned whale, and the Unicorn whale. He is certainly a curious example of the Unicornism to be found in almost every kingdom of animated nature. From certain cloistered old authors I have gathered that this same sea-unicorn’s horn was in ancient days regarded as the great antidote against poison, and as such, preparations of it brought immense prices. It was also distilled to a volatile salts for fainting ladies, the same way that the horns of the male deer are manufactured into hartshornhartshorn: ammonia-based “smelling salts.”. Originally it was in itself accounted an object of great curiosity. Black Letter tells me that Sir Martin FrobisherBlack Letter tells me that Sir Martin Frobisher: “Black Letter” is a distinctive gothic typeface in the earliest of print books, but here refers to Richard Hakluyt, whose Principal Navigations (1598) reprints, among others, the voyage accounts by the sixteenth-century English navigator and explorer of Canada’s Atlantic coast, Martin Frobisher. on his return from that voyage, when Queen Bess did gallantly wave her jewelled hand to him from a window of Greenwich Palace, as his bold ship sailed down the Thames; “when Sir Martin returned from that voyage,” saith Black Letter, “on bended knees he presented to her highness a prodigious long horn of the Narwhale, which for a long period after hung in the castle at Windsor.” An Irish author avers that the Earl of Leicester, on bended knees, did likewise present to her highness another hornanother horn . . . of the unicorn nature: Here, the unicorn's horn is sexually suggestive. Melville no doubt invented the Irish author, who implies that the Earl of Leicester, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, was also her lover., pertaining to a land beast of the unicorn nature.
The Narwhale has a very picturesque, leopard-like look, being of a milk-white ground color, dotted with round and oblong spots of black. His oil is very superior, clear and fine; but there is little of it, and he is seldom hunted. He is mostly found in the circumpolar seas.
BOOK II. (Octavo), Chapter IV. (Killer).—Of this whale little is precisely known to the Nantucketer, and nothing at all to the professed naturalist. From what I have seen of him at a distance, I should say that he was about the bigness of a grampus. He is very savage—a sort of Feegee fishFeegee fish: Fiji Islanders were proverbially fierce.. He sometimes takes the great Folio whales by the lip, and hangs there like a leech, till the mighty brute is worried to death. The Killer is never hunted. I never heard what sort of oil he has. Exception might be taken to the name bestowed upon this whale, on the ground of its indistinctness. For we are all killers, on land and on sea; Bonapartes and Sharks includedBonapartes and Sharks included: Napoleon had been finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815, but the legend of his cunning and greatness grew in the following years. After his death, other Bonapartes continued to seize power in Europe, including Louis Bonaparte (Melville’s “Louis the Devil”), president, then emperor of France during Melville’s publishing years. Pairing Napoleon’s family name with the capitalized Sharks, Melville hints at the betrayal of democracy, suggesting that greatness is sharkishness in disguise. In Ch. 94, Fleece, the cook, delivers a similar message about humans as sharks..
BOOK II. (Octavo), Chapter V. (Thrasher).—This gentleman is famous for his tail, which he uses for a feruleferule: cane or stick used for punishment. in thrashing his foes. He mounts the Folio whale’s back, and as he swims, he works his passage by flogging him; as some schoolmasters get along in the world by a similar process. Still less is known of the Thrasher than of the Killer. Both are outlaws, even in the lawless seas.REVISION NARRATIVE: even in the lawless seas // In the British edition, “the” has been dropped to give “even in lawless seas.” The shift has significance, for with “the lawless seas,” all seas are lawless, while “lawless seas” suggests that only certain seas are lawless. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin.
Thus ends BOOK II. (Octavo), and begins BOOK III. (Duodecimo.)
DUODECIMOES.—These include the smaller whales. I. The Huzza Porpoise. II. The Algerine Porpoise. III. The Mealy-mouthed Porpoise.
To those who have not chanced specially to study the subject, it may possibly seem strange, that fishes not commonly exceeding four or five feet should be marshalled among WHALES—a word, which, in the popular sense, always conveys an idea of hugeness. But the creatures set down above as Duodecimoes are infallibly whales, by the terms of my definition of what a whale is—i.e. a spouting fish, with a horizontal tail.
BOOK III. (Duodecimo), Chapter I. (Huzza Porpoise).—This is the common porpoise found almost all over the globe. The name is of my own bestowal; for there are more than one sort of porpoises, and something must be done to distinguish them. I call him thus, because he always swims in hilarious shoals, which upon the broad sea keep tossing themselves to heaven like caps in a Fourth-of-July crowd. Their appearance is generally hailed with delight by the mariner. Full of fine spirits, they invariably come from the breezy billows to windward. They are the lads that always live before the wind. They are accounted a lucky omen. If you yourself can withstand three cheers at beholding these vivacious fish, then heaven help ye; the spirit of godly gamesomeness is not in ye. A well-fed, plump Huzza Porpoise will yield you one good gallon of good oil. But the fine and delicate fluid extracted from his jaws is exceedingly valuable. It is in request among jewellers and watchmakers. Sailors put it on their honeshones: sharpening stones.. Porpoise meat is good eating, you know. It may never have occurred to you that a porpoise spouts. Indeed, his spout is so small that it is not very readily discernible. But the next time you have a chance, watch him; and you will then see the great Sperm whale himself in miniature.
BOOK III. (Duodecimo), Chapter II. (Algerine Porpoise). A pirate(Algerine Porpoise). A pirate: The fierce, state-supported Algerian and Tunisian pirates of the North African coast, against whom the United States fought the Tripolitan War of 1801–1805, were finally suppressed by the French in 1830. A "pirate" is also an unauthorized reprint of a writer's publication, which might extend the author's reputation though at the expense of revenues.. Very savage. He is only found, I think, in the Pacific. He is somewhat larger than the Huzza Porpoise, but much of the same general make. Provoke him, and he will buckle tobuckle to: attack. a shark. I have lowered for him many times, but never yet saw him captured.
BOOK III. (Duodecimo), Chapter III. (Mealy-mouthed Porpoise).—The largest kind of Porpoise; and only found in the Pacific, so far as it is known. The only English name, by which he has hitherto been designated, is that of the fishers—Right-Whale Porpoise, from the circumstance that he is chiefly found in the vicinity of that Folio. In shape, he differs in some degree from the Huzza Porpoise, being of a less rotund and jolly girth; indeed, he is of quite a neat and gentlemanlike figure. He has no fins on his back (most other porpoises have), he has a lovely tail, and sentimental Indian eyessentimental Indian eyes: A romantic cliché combining India and sentimental love, as in Shelley’s “Indian Serenade.” of a hazel hue. But his mealy-mouth spoils all. Though his entire back down to his side fins is of a deep sable, yet a boundary line, distinct as the mark in a ship’s hull, called the “bright waist,”“bright waist”: Broad band of white paint around the hull. On it black squares resembling gun-ports were some-times painted to deter pirate attack. that line streaks him from stem to stern, with two separate colors, black above and white below. The white comprises part of his head, and the whole of his mouth, which makes him look as if he had just escaped from a felonious visit to a meal-bag. A most mean and mealy aspect! His oil is much like that of the common porpoise.
* * * * * *
Beyond the Duodecimo, this system does not proceed, inasmuch as the Porpoise is the smallest of the whales. Above, you have all the Leviathans of note. But there are a rabble of uncertain, fugitive, half-fabulous whales, which as an American
whaleman, I know by reputation, but not personally. I shall enumerate them by their forecastle appellations; for possibly such a list may be valuable to future investigators, who may complete what I have here but begun. If any of the following whales, shall hereafter be caught and marked, then he can readily be incorporated into this System, according to his Folio, Octavo, or Duodecimo magnitude:—The Bottle-Nose Whale; the Junk Whale; the Pudding-Headed Whale; the Cape Whale; the Leading Whale; the Cannon Whale; the Scragg Whale; the Coppered Whale; the Elephant Whale; the Iceberg Whale; the Quog Whale; the Blue Whale; &c. From Icelandic, Dutch, and old English authorities, there might be quoted other lists of uncertain whales, blessed with all manner of uncouth names. But I omit them as altogether obsolete; and can hardly help suspecting them for mere sounds, full of Leviathanism, but signifying nothingmere sounds, full of Leviathanism, but signifying nothing: Echoing Macbeth 5.5, “Life’s but a walking shadow, . . . a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.”.
Finally: It was stated at the outset, that this system would not be here, and at once, perfected. You cannot but plainly see that I have kept my word. But I now leave my cetological System standing thus unfinished, even as the great Cathedral of Colognegreat Cathedral of Cologne: Melville visited this famously unfinished Prussian church in 1849, and may have read that the crane had been there for two centuries. As sources for the ideas in this passage, Mansfield and Vincent suggest Goethe, and Parker cites a review of Wordsworth’s The Prelude. The crane atop one of the unfinished cathedral towers is visible in Jan van der Heyden's A View in Cologne. The cathedral remained unfinished for another thirty years after the publication of Moby-Dick, as the annotation on an albumin print of the Cologne Cathedral attests: "Oct 15th 1880 the completion of the cathedral was celebrated" was left, with the crane still standing upon the top of the uncompleted tower. For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep meREVISION NARRATIVE: God keep me // The British revision to “Heaven keep me” eliminates the use of the Lord’s name in vain. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin. from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught—nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!