39 First Night-Watch
(Stubb solussolus: Latin, alone. , and mending a brace.)
Ha! ha! ha! ha! hem! clear my throat!—I’ve been thinking over it ever since, and that ha, ha’s the final consequence. Why so? Because a laugh’s the wisest, easiest answer to all that’s queer; and come what will, one comfort’s always left—that unfailing comfort is, it’s all predestinated. I heard not all his talk with Starbuck; but to my poor eye Starbuck then looked something as I the other evening felt. Be sure the old MogulMogul: a Mongol ruler or any important person; here, Captain Ahab. has fixed him, too. I twigged it, knew it; had had the gift, might readily have prophesied it—for when I clapped my eye upon his skull I saw it. Well, Stubb, wise Stubb—that’s my title—well, Stubb, what of it, Stubb? Here’s a carcasecarcase: Variant of carcass, corpse; also “the decaying skeleton of a vessel . . . a ruin” (OED). Evoking the grave-digger scene in which Hamlet contemplates a skull, Stubb, who has just mentioned a skull, calls himself in a dismissively witty tone just a carcase, or anything (according to the OED) “from which the life, soul or essence is gone.”. I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing. Such a waggish leering as lurks in all your horribles! I feel funny. Fa, la! lirra, skirra! What’s my juicy little pear at home doing now? Crying its eyes out?—Giving a party to the last arrived harpooneers, I dare say, gay as a frigate’s pennantfrigate’s pennant: long triangular flag flown at the top of the mainmast on a frigate or other warship., and so am I—fa, la! lirra, skirra! Oh—
We’ll drink to-night with hearts as light,
To love, as gay and fleetingto love: The stanza is taken from “Sparkling and Bright” by Melville’s friend, Charles Fenno Hoffman (1806-1884). Hoffman’s original wording “To loves as gay and fleeting” has been changed to “To love, as gay and fleeting.” The editors of the NN Moby-Dick reckon that “To love,” is the result of a mistranscription of Melville’s handwriting that he failed to correct in page proofs, and they revise the text to conform to the Hoffman original. However, the change may be an intended revision to the singular. MEL makes no change.
As bubbles that swim, on the beaker’s brim,
And break on the lips while meeting.
A brave stave that—who calls? Mr. Starbuck? Aye, aye, sir—(Aside) he’s my superior, he has his too, if I’m not mistaken.—Aye, aye, sir, just through with this job—coming.