HARPOONEERS AND SAILORS.
(Foresail rises and discovers the watch standing, lounging, leaning, and lying in various attitudes, all singing in chorus.)Foresail rises and discovers the watch: In Melville’s forecastle drama, the rising sail is a curtain that “discovers” (reveals) the on-duty crewmen.
Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish ladies!
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain!
Our captain’s commanded—REVISION NARRATIVE: commanded— // The stanza is from the popular nautical song “Spanish Ladies.” Most versions read, “For we’ve received orders” to sail homeward, rather than Melville’s “Our captain’s commanded.” The American edition places a period and dash after "commanded", which gives the impression of sentence completion when, in fact, the singers are being interrupted in mid-verse. The British edition corrects the error (probably at Melville's request) by removing the period, a change that both MEL and NN Moby-Dick editions adopt. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin.
1st NANTUCKET SAILOR.
Oh, boys, don’t be sentimental; it’s bad for the digestion! Take a tonic, follow me!
(Sings, and all follow.)
Our captain stood upon the deck . . . : Melville found this sailor song in J. Ross Browne, Etchings of a Whaling Cruise, where it is called “Captain Bunker.” See Stuart M. Frank, "King of the Southern Sea." stood upon the deck,
A spy-glass in his hand,
A viewing of those gallant whales
That blew at every strandstrand: wave..
Oh, your tubs in your boats, my boys,
And by your braces stand,
And we’ll have one of those fine whales,
Hand, boys, over hand!
So, be cheery, my lads! may your hearts never fail!
While the bold harpooneer is striking the whale!
MATE’S VOICE FROM THE QUARTER-DECK.
Eight bells: signalling the end of a four-hour watch and, in this case, midnight. there, forward!
2d NANTUCKET SAILOR.
Avast the chorus! Eight bells there! d’ye hear, bell-boybell-boy: On board a ship, a bell is rung every thirty minutes over a four-hour watch to indicate the passage of time and, at eight bells, to announce the changing of the watch. According to maritime historian Michael Dyer, no single crewmember is exclusively designated for the job on a whaling ship, nor does “bell-boy” (meaning boy who rings a bell) appear as a functionary in any nautical glossaries. However, in the US Navy, the "messenger boy" in a watch was a young recruit sent on errands, including the striking of the ship's bell (see Charles Nordhoff, Nine Years a Sailor, 1857). Having witnessed messenger boys in the Navy, Melville may have transferred the practice to the Pequod and invented the term "bell-boy" for Pip, who, in ringing the ship’s bell, opens Ch. 40's riotous scene and rattles his tambourine to get the sailors dancing. Later, in Ch. 125, when Ahab asks “Who art thou, boy,” Pip responds, “Bell-boy, sir; ship’s crier,” and mimics a bell: “ding, dong, ding.” In that scene, Pip not only identifies himself as a bell-boy but also becomes a bell. See also “Bell-boy, sir; ship’s crier,” in Ch. 125.? Strike the bell eight, thou Pip! thou blackling! and let me call the watch. I’ve the sort of mouth for that—the hogshead mouthhogshead mouth: The Nantucketer styles himself a big-mouthed, hence loud man. A hogshead is a large cask equaling two barrels or 63 gallons of whale oil.. So, so, (thrusts his head down the scuttle,) Star—bo-l-e-e-n-s, a-h-o-y! Star—bo-l-e-e-n-s, a-h-o-y! : The men in the starboard watch (“starbowlines” or “starboleens” in sailor speech) are being called to the deck from their off-duty sleep to relieve the larboard (port) watch, but they are slow to appear. In the following speeches, the Dutch sailor compares their reluctance to leave their beds to the difficulty of hauling up the lowest level of oil barrels in the hold, and he facetiously advises using the copper pump (meant for pumping whale oil from one barrel to another) as a megaphone. As their shipmates appear on deck from below, the French sailor calls for a dance before he and his mates in the larboard watch go below to sleep.Eight bells there below! Tumble up!
Grand snoozing to-night, maty; fat night for that. I mark this in our old Mogul’s wine; it’s quite as deadening to some as fillipingfilliping: stimulating. to others. We sing; they sleep—aye, lie down there, like ground-tier butts. At ’em again! There, take this copper-pump, and hail ’em through it. Tell ’em to avast dreaming of their lasses. Tell ’em it’s the resurrection; they must kiss their last, and come to judgment.REVISION NARRATIVE: Tell ’em it’s the resurrection; they must kiss their last, and come to judgment // The British edition expurgates this blasphemous use of the Resurrection and Judgment Day to a drunken stupor. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin. That’s the way—that’s it; thy throat ain’t spoiled with eating Amsterdam butterAmsterdam butter: The joke is that the common sailors were not fed butter, with its supposedly voice-smoothing properties, much less the highly-esteemed and expensive Dutch butter from Amsterdam. See also Bildad’s concern over the price of butter, and Flask’s avoidance of it (Chs. 21, 35)..
Hist, boys! let’s have a jig or two before we ride to anchor in Blanket Bay. What say ye? There comes the other watch. Stand by all legs! Pip! little Pip! hurrah with your tambourine!
(Sulky and sleepy.)
Don’t know where it is.
Beat thy belly, then, and wag thy ears. Jig it, men, I say; merry’s the word; hurrah! Damn me, won’t you dance? Form, now, Indian-file, and gallop into the double-shuffledouble-shuffle: Popular American dance combining Irish and African folk traditions, performed at hoedowns and street competitions. Charles Dickens called it “a low, noisy dance.” Until he was ten, Melville lived in lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village where slaves and freed African Americans met at marketplaces and streetcorners to perform the "shake-down," an early version of today's break dancing (see Bryant, Herman Melville: A Half Known Life, vol. 1, ch. 3).? Throw yourselves! Legs! legs!
I don’t like your floor, maty; it’s too springy to my taste. I’m used to ice-floors. I’m sorry to throw cold water on the subject; but excuse me.
Me too; where’s your girls? Who but a fool would take his left hand by his right, and say to himself, how d’ye do? Partners! I must have partners!
Aye; girls and a greengreen: village commons, or grassy lawn.!—then I’ll hop with ye; yea, turn grasshopper!
Well, well, ye sulkies, there’s plenty more of us. Hoe cornHoe corn: do a hoe-down, a wild country dance. when you may, say I. All legs go to harvest soon. Ah! here comes the music; now for it!
AZORE SAILOR.AZORE SAILOR: The island group off the coast of Portugal is in English variously called the Azores (pronounced AY-zorz), the Azores Islands, or the Azore Islands. The editors of the NN Moby-Dick take “Azore” to be a typo and emend it to “Azores” in both iterations of “Azore Sailor.” But since “Azore Islands” is found in print in the early nineteenth century; MEL does not make a change.
(Ascending, and pitching the tambourine up the scuttle.)
Here you are, Pip; and there’s the windlass-bittswindlass-bitts: two strong vertical timbers supporting the ends of the windlass.; up you mount! Now, boys!
(The half of them dance to the tambourine; some go below; some sleep or lie among the coils of rigging. Oaths a-plenty.)
Go it, Pip! Bang it, bell-boy! Rig it, dig it, stig it, quig it, bell-boy! Make fire-flies; break the jinglers!REVISION NARRATIVE: break the jinglers! . . . jinglers, you say? // The Azore Sailor urges Pip to “break the jinglers,” the rattling metal disks on his tambourine, as he entertains the dancing sailors. Pip’s response, “Jinglers, you say?” indicates that the word may be suggestive. “To jingle” had mild sexual connotations in some folk music, and a “jingle-boy” is a gold coin. Given the musical and sexual references in the dance scene, which celebrates Ahab’s offer of a gold coin, the word is rich with suggestive meanings. However, in the British edition, “jinglers” has been changed to “jigglers” in both iterations of the word. “Jiggler” may mean dancer, as in “to jig it” or dance a jig. But according to Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, “jiggle” is also a strong, working-class, slang expression for sexual intercourse that had found its way into print around 1845. Although Melville had known enough British sailors who might have used this word on board ship in the early 1840s, he is not likely to have revised his merely suggestive “jinglers” to the more explicitly vulgar “jigglers.” Nor would his British copyeditor, who is careful elsewhere to sanitize Melville’s racy language, revise Melville’s innocent-enough “jinglers” to a clearly salacious “jigglers.” (Possibly the editor might not have been aware of the new working-class expression.) Moreover, the fact that the word is revised in both places indicates that the alteration is not likely to be a random typo. Who, then, might have made this change, and how might it have occurred? One possibility is that the revision is a printer’s prank. Because this chapter is printed in three different font styles as well as with both centered and justified lines of type, the compositor would have slowed down to set the type, and in doing so he might have also paid enough attention to the text to recognize the raciness of the scene. He might then have converted Melville’s “jinglers” to “jigglers,” a new, low-class vulgarism that might not be detected in proofs by higher-class editors and proofreaders of the day. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin.
Jinglers, you say?—there goes another, dropped off; I pound it so.
Rattle thy teeth, then, and pound away; make a pagodamake a pagoda of thyself: bells were often hung on Chinese pagodas. of thyself.
Merry-mad! Hold up thy hoop, Pip, till I jump through it! Split jibs!Split jibs!: split yourselves like sails torn in a violent storm. tear yourselves!
That’s a white man; he calls that fun: humph! I save my sweat.
OLD MANX SAILOR.
I wonder whether those jolly lads bethink them of what they are dancing over. I’ll dance over your grave, I will—that’s the bitterest threat of your night-women, that beat head-winds round cornersyour night-women, that beat head-winds round corners: The Old Manx Sailor imagines the younger men dancing on shore as a prelude to intercourse with prostitutes and venereal infection, leading to the grave. Such is the “threat of your night-women” (prostitutes), whom the Manxman also imagines pacing their chilly street corner posts like ships “beating” against the wind, maneuvering first to one side of the wind and then the other.. O ChristREVISION NARRATIVE: O Christ // The British version reads “O Lord!”, a routine revision that amounts to a religious expurgation.! to think of the green navies and the green-skulled crews! Well, well; belikebelike: probably, perhaps. the whole world’s a ball, as you scholars have itREVISION NARRATIVE: the whole world’s a ball, as you scholars have it // With "the whole world's a ball," Melville has revised Jaques's famous line, “All the world’s a stage,” in Shakespeare’s As You Like It (2.7). With "as you scholars have it," the Old Manx Sailor seems to be giving academic legitimacy to his revision and further license to extend Shakespeare's equation of "stage" and "Globe Theater" by punning on "ball": Probably (“Belike”) the world is a ball—that is, a planetary sphere but also a game ball—and in his sailor view, an occasion for dance. The world is therefore a "ball-room," and a place for sexual encounter as well. This progression of submerged puns and rhetorical poses is complicated by two changes appearing in the British edition, possibly requested by Melville.
The first involves “you scholars.” Here, the old sailor addresses Melville's audience directly, facetiously referring to them as the very (and probably Shakespearean) scholars who would get Melville's Shakespearean joking. But in the British edition, “you scholars” is changed to “your scholars,” meaning "scholars anywhere" or “the scholarly tradition.” The change eliminates the Manx Sailor’s addressing the scholars in the audience directly as in a Shakespearean "aside."
A second change alters the Manx Sailor’s Shakespearean paraphrase. Here, “the whole world’s a ball” is revised to “the whole world’s one ball,” which diminishes the Shakespearean echo, flattens the humor, and creates a redundancy with “one ball-room” in the following line.
The editors of the NN Moby-Dick consider the first change (to "your scholars") to be a correction of a typo—that is, Melville had originally intended "your scholars"—and they adopt that reading. They also adopt the second change (to "one ball") as an emendation of their text, but without discussion. However, since "your scholars" may have been a change of mind on Melville’s part and hence not a correction, and since "one ball" may be a compositor’s eye-skip to "one ball-room," neither variant merits adoption. In any event, in keeping with its policy of not mixing versions but discussing revisions through revision annotation, MEL makes no change to the American version. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin.; and so ’tis right to make one ball-room of it. Dance on, lads, you’re young; I was once.
3d NANTUCKET SAILOR.
Spell oh!—whew! this is worse than pulling after whales in a calm—give us a whiff, Tash.
(They cease dancing, and gather in clusters. Meantime the sky darkens—the wind rises.)
LASCAR SAILORLascar: from Lashkar, India; here, an Indian sailor..
By BrahmaBrahma and Seeva are the Hindu gods of creation and destruction, respectively; the Ganges is India’s holy river.! boys, it’ll be douse sail soon. The sky-born, high-tide Ganges turned to wind! Thou showest thy black brow, Seeva!
(Reclining and shaking his cap.)
It’s the waves—the snow’s caps turn to jig it now.REVISION NARRATIVE: It’s the waves—the snow’s caps turn to jig it now. // In the previous speech, the Lascar (Indian) Sailor observes that a wind is blowing up (a sign of the coming storm): the sea (called a “high-tide Ganges”) becomes transformed; it is “turned to wind,” or perhaps it turns darker in facing the wind. In any case, the darkened sea has become choppy with “white-caps,” the little cresting waves kicked up at sea or on a lake by the wind. In the present speech, the Maltese Sailor calls them “snow’s caps” (likely a neologism evoking snowcapped mountains, also found as “snow-caps” in Ch. 126), and, playing on the Lascar’s idiom “turned to wind,” he observes that it is these little cresting waves that now “turn to jig it,” or transform themselves in order to dance. But since the exhausted sailors are coming to the end of their dancing, it is also possible that the Maltese Sailor is saying that it is now the waves’ turn (opportunity) to dance. Assuming that Melville intended this latter possibility, the editors of the NN Moby-Dick change “waves” into the plural possessive “waves’.” They also revised “snow’s caps” to “snow-caps’,” converting it as well to the plural possessive. Finding no compelling argument for these plural possessives, MEL makes no change. They’ll shake their tassels soon. Now would all the waves were women, then I’d go drown, and chasseechassee: dance. with them evermore! There’s naught so sweet on earth—heaven may not match it!—as those swift glances of warm, wild bosoms in the dance, when the over-arboring arms hide such ripe, bursting grapes.
Tell me not of it! Hark ye, lad—fleet interlacings of the limbs—lithe swayings—coyings—flutterings! lip! heart! hip! all graze: unceasing touch and go! not taste, observe ye, else come satietyREVISION NARRATIVE: not taste, observe ye, else come satiety // As the men continue dancing with each
other, the Sicilian observes that the physical touching should be limited to “grazings” and no “tast[ings]”; otherwise
the dancing might become explicitly sexual and lead to over-indulgence. The British edition removed “not taste
observe ye, else come satiety,” expurgating the hint of sexual consequences. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin.. Eh, Pagan? (Nudging.)
(Reclining on a mat.)
Hail, holy nakedness of our dancing girls!—the
Heeva-HeevaHeeva-Heeva: Tahitian dance of peace, seen by Western observers as licentious.! Ah! low veiled, high palmed
Tahiti!Tahiti!: Now part of French Polynesia and a major tourist destination, in the early nineteenth century Tahiti was virtually synonymous with Paradise. Refusing to work on the Australian whaleship Lucy Ann, in 1842, Melville and several mates were imprisoned on Tahiti for a month. He and a companion escaped to its neighboring island, Eimeo (Moorea). Omoo is based on those adventures. (See Bryant, Herman Melville: A Half Known Life, vol. 2, chs. 81-83). I still rest me on thy mat, but the soft soil has slid! I saw thee woven in the wood, my mat! green the first day I brought ye thence; now worn and wilted quite. Ah me!—not thou nor I can bear the change! How then, if so be transplanted to yon sky? Hear I the roaring streams from Pirohitee’s peak of spearsPirohitee’s peak of spears: Piroheeti is also found in Omoo and is probably Pito Hiti, the second tallest summit in Tahiti’s jagged, central mountain range., when they leap down the crags and drown the villages?—The blast! the blast! Up, spine, and meet it! (Leaps to his feet.)
How the sea rolls swashing ’gainst the side! Stand by for reefing, hearties! the winds are just crossing swords, pell-mell they’ll go lunging presently.
CrackCrack, crack, old ship!: Wooden ships make such noises adjusting themselves to the sea and wind; a noisy ship was said to be a safe one. Also an echo of words uttered during a storm in Shakespeare's King Lear: “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!” (3.2.1)., crack, old ship! so long as thou crackest, thou holdest! Well done! The mate there holds ye to it stiffly. He’s no more afraid than the isle fort at Cattegatthe isle fort at Cattegat: The Kattegat is that part of the North Sea between Denmark and Sweden. Melville's reference may be to the fortified Kronborg castle (the Elsinore of Hamlet) west of Copenhagen and both on Sjælland island., put there to fight the Baltic with storm-lashed guns, on which the sea-salt cakes!
4th NANTUCKET SAILOR.
He has his orders, mind ye that. I heard old Ahab tell him he must always kill a squall, something as they burst a water-spoutwater-spout: Early sailors believed that a water-spout—a funnel-shaped cloud over a body of water—could be broken apart by firing weapons into it. Melville drew this information from William Falconer's The Shipwreck, canto II: “white with foam the whirling billows fly. / The guns were primed; ... / The nitre fired; ... / The watery Volume, trembling to the sky, / Burst down, a dreadful deluge, from on high!” See also Falconer entry in Extracts. with a pistol—fire your ship right into it!
BloodBlood!: version of Shakespeare's truncated oath "'Sblood," short for "Christ's blood." The word was not expurgated in the British edition, suggesting that its impiety had been sufficiently sanitized.! but that old man’s a grand old covecove: fellow.! We are the lads to hunt him up his whale!
OLD MANX SAILOR.
How the three pinespines: the ship’s masts. shake! Pines are the hardest sort of
tree to live when shifted to any other soil, and here there’s none but the crew’s cursed clay. Steady, helmsman! steady. This is the sort of weather when brave hearts snap ashore, and keeled hulls split at sea. Our captain has his birth-mark; look yonder, boys, there’s another in the sky—lurid-like, ye see, all else pitch black.
What of that? Who’s afraid of black’s afraid of me! I’m quarried out of it!
(Aside.) He wants to bully, ah!—the old grudgethe old grudge: Racial antipathy, exacerbated in this case by Daggoo’s legitimate grudge against whites for enslaving black Africans while associating them with the devil, as the Spaniard says. Perhaps, too, the Spanish sailor is “touchy” because his nation was a leader in that slave trade. makes me touchy. (Advancing.) Aye, harpooneer, thy race is the undeniable dark side of mankind—devilish dark at that. No offence.
ST. JAGO’S SAILOR.
That Spaniard’s mad or drunk. But that can’t be, or else in his one case our old Mogul’s fire-waters are somewhat long in working.ST. JAGO’S SAILOR: St. Jago is a corruption of São Tiago (Santiago), in the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa.
5th NANTUCKET SAILOR.
What’s that I saw—lightning? Yes.
No; Daggoo showing his teeth.
Swallow thine, mannikinmannikin: little one. Literally, a person who is very small, especially one not otherwise abnormal or deformed.! White skin, white liver!
SPANISH SAILOR (meeting him).
Knife thee heartily! big frame, small spirit!
A row! a row! a row!
TASHTEGO (with a whiff).
A row a’low, and a row aloft—Gods and men—both brawlers! Humph!
A row! arraharrah: Anglo-Irish, really. a row! The Virgin be blessed, a row! Plunge in with ye!
Fair play! Snatch the Spaniard’s knife! A ring, a ring!
OLD MANX SAILOR.
Ready formed. There! the ringed horizon. In that ring Cain struck Abel. Sweet work, right work! No? Why then, God, mad’st thou the ring?REVISION NARRATIVE: Why then, God, mad’st thou the ring? // The Old Manx Sailor cynically queries God, asking why he would make the world ("the ring," that is, a boxing ring) in order for men to kill their brothers, and the British Edition expurgates this blasphemous question. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin.
MATE’S VOICE FROM THE QUARTER DECK.
Hands by the halyardsHands by the halyards! in top-gallant sails! Stand by to reef topsails!: The mate orders the men to reduce the ship’s sail area, first by mustering them to lower the sails with the halyards, then by ordering them aloft to furl the top-gallant sails, which are set above the topsails, and finally to prepare to reef (reduce the size of) the topsails. Since the topsails are usually the first sails set and the last taken down, the fact that they have to be reefed indicates the storm's strength.! in top-gallant sails! Stand by to reef topsails!
The squall! the squall! jump, my jollies! (They scatter.)
PIP (shrinking under the windlass).
Jollies? Lord help such jollies! Crish, crash! there goes the jib-stayjib-stay . . . royal yard!: According to Pip, the stay leading from the top of the foremast to the jib-boom (on which the triangular jib is strung) has snapped, and a royal yard, four levels above the deck, is crashing down; if true, these would amount to a serious accident. In the absence of other evidence of damage, though, it seems that Pip’s fear is already running away with him, long before his disastrous leap in Ch. 93.! Blang-whang! God!REVISION NARRATIVE: God! Duck lower, Pip // The British edition expurgates “God!”—a use of the Lord’s name in vain. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin. Duck lower, Pip, here comes the royal yardroyal yard: The royal is the highest sail on the mast, above the foresail, fore topsail, and fore topgallant sail. The yard is the wooden crosspiece from which the royal sail hangs.! It’s worse than being in the whirled woods, the last day of the year! Who’d go climbing after chestnuts now? But there they go, all cursing, and here I don’t. Fine prospects to ’em; they’re on the road to heavenroad to heaven: as the crew climbs up into the rigging to prepare the ship for the terrifying white squall, Pip wishes them well, with apt though ironic benevolence: apt in that their life-threatening job will save the ship; benevolent in the assumption they are headed for heaven instead of hell; ironic in that sailors had a reputation that would preclude heaven. According to Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, the New-York Evangelist articulated this general derogation: “When poor Jack gets at mast head as his ship rides the top of the mountain wave, he is nearer heaven than he ever will be again” (Sailor Talk, 90).. Hold on hard!
JimminiJimmini: or Jiminy and “Jiminy Cricket,” a disguised oath of surprise, dating from the early 1800s, signifying Jesus Christ., what a squall! But those chaps there are worse yet—they are your white squallswhite squalls: Sudden and violent windstorms at sea unaccompanied by the black clouds generally characteristic of a squall. Because an approaching white squall is hard to see, it is feared far more than a regular one. Although the sailors in the dramatic scene are not all white, Pip’s comparison of them to a white squall and then the white whale implies his fearful awareness of racialized and adult male violence., they. White squalls? white whale, shirr! shirr! Here have I heard all their chat just now, and the white whale—shirr! shirr!—but spoken of once! and only this evening—it makes me jingle all over like my tambourine—that anaconda of an old man swore ’em in to hunt him! Oh, thou big white God aloft there somewhere in yon darkness, have mercy on this small black boy down here; preserve him from all men that have no bowelsbowels: in scripture, the seat of pity or kindness; the supposed bodily source of compassion. to feel fear!
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