57 Of Whales in Paint, in Teeth, &c. CHAPTER 57 OF WHALES IN PAINT; IN TEETH; IN WOOD; IN SHEET-IRON; IN STONE; IN MOUNTAINS; IN STARS. On Tower-hill, as you go down to the London docks, you may have seen a crippled beggarTower-hill . . . beggar: Tower-hill is an elevation outside the Tower of London. A book illustration similar to the scene Melville describes was published in London in 1837 (see Leyda, The Melville Log). Images of a crippled beggar, a mute with a sign board, and a one-legged man open Melville’s last novel, The Confidence-Man. (or kedgerkedger: To kedge is to move a ship by hauling on a rope fastened to an anchor that has been dropped some distance from it; kedging is a slow and laborious process, and a "kedger" might refer here to the labored pace of a crippled beggar; however, according to Partridge's Dictionary of Slang, it is also, like "cadger," a fawning beggar seeking to perform trivial services., as the sailors say) holding a painted board before him, representing the tragic scene in which he lost his leg. There are three whales and three boats; and one of the boats (presumed to contain the missing leg in all its original integrity) is being crunched by the jaws of the foremost whale. Any time these ten years, they tell me, has that man held up that picture, and exhibited that stump to an incredulous world. But the time of his justification has now come. His three whales are as good whales as were ever published in WappingWapping: an area frequented by sailors, near the Tower of London docks., at any rate; and his stump as unquestionable a stump as any you will find in the western clearings. But, though for ever mounted on that stump, never a stump-speech does the poor whaleman make; but, with downcast eyes, stands ruefully contemplating his own amputation. Throughout the Pacific, and also in Nantucket, and New Bedford, and Sag HarborSag Harbor: Important whaling port on the eastern end of Long Island., you will come across lively sketches of whales and whaling-scenes, graven by the fishermen themselves on Sperm Whale-teethSperm Whale-teeth: The art of engraving images on bone, ivory, or, as in this case, sperm whale teeth is called scrimshaw. The piece featured here, at the Nantucket Whaling Museum, was carved by Edward Burdett., or ladies’ busks ladies' busks: busks were used to stiffen corsets that many fashionable women wore in the nineteenth century. Although some were made of wood, the baleen from a right whale proved to be superior and was often engraved, as featured here. Each busk is about 10 inches long. wrought out of the Right Whale-bone, and other like skrimshander articles, as the whalemen call the numerous little ingenious contrivances they elaborately carve out of the rough material, in their hours of ocean leisure. Some of them have little boxes of dentistical-looking implements, specially intended for the skrimshandering business. But, in general, they toil with their jack-knives alone; and, with that almost omnipotent tool of the sailor, they will turn you out anything you please, in the way of a mariner’s fancy. Long exile from Christendom and civilization inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, i.e. what is called savagery. Your true whale-hunter is as much a savage as an Iroquois. I myself am a savage, owning no allegiance but to the King of the Cannibals; and ready at any moment to rebel against him. Now, one of the peculiar characteristics of the savage in his domestic hours, is his wonderful patience of industry. An ancient Hawaiian war-club or spear-paddle, in its full multiplicity and elaboration of carving, is as great a trophy of human perseverance as a Latin lexiconLatin lexicon: Latin dictionary. For, with but a bit of broken sea-shell or a shark’s tooth, that miraculous intricacy of wooden net-work has been achieved; and it has cost steady years of steady application. As with the Hawaiian savage, so with the white sailor-savage. With the same marvellous patience, and with the same single shark’s tooth, of his one poor jack-knife, he will carve you a bit of bone sculpture, not quite as workmanlike, but as close packed in its maziness of design, as the Greek savage, Achilles’s shield;Achilles’s shield: Book 18 of the Iliad describes this magnificent pictorial shield crafted by the god Hephaestus for the indeed savage warrior, Achilles. On it are depicted two cities—one of peace, the other war—a microcosm of Greek life. Melville would have known of the Iliad and Achilles's shield from his schooling, and he was surely aware of the celebrated rendering of the shield by British artist John Flaxman (1755-1826). Another illustration, from an 1832 issue of the weekly Penny Magazine, is particularly faithful to the “maziness of design” Melville found in Homer’s description. By the time he wrote Moby-Dick, Melville had purchased a copy of the Harper's Classical Library edition of Alexander Pope’s 1715-1720 translation of Homer’s Iliad. He later acquired an 1857 edition of George Chapman's 1616 translation of the Iliad, titled The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets. and full of barbaric spirit and suggestiveness, as the prints of that fine old Dutch savage, Albert Durer.Albrecht Dürer: German (not "Dutch") artist (1471-1528) who developed woodcuts and engravings into a fine art. Melville saw some “plates” of Dürer’s highly wrought engravings at the Bibliotheque Royale in Paris, in 1849 (NN Journals, 33), but he did not identify any by name. One of Dürer’s most famous engravings, Melencolia 1 (1514), represents the kind of “barbaric spirit and suggestiveness” that Melville also finds in "savage" Hawaiian design. Wooden whales, or whales cut in profile out of the small dark slabs of the noble South Sea war-wood, are frequently met with in the forecastles of American whalers. Some of them are done with much accuracy. At some old gable-roofed country houses you will see brass whales hung by the tail for knockers to the road-side door. When the porter is sleepy, the anvil-headed whale would be best. But these knocking whales are seldom remarkable as faithful essays. On the spires of some old-fashioned churches you will see sheet-iron whales placed there for weather-cocks; but they are so elevated, and besides that are to all intents and purposes so labelled with "Hands off!" you cannot examine them closely enough to decide upon their merit. In bony, ribby regions of the earth, where at the base of high broken cliffs masses of rock lie strewn in fantastic groupings upon the plain, you will often discover images as of the petrified forms of the Leviathan partly merged in grass, which of a windy day breaks against them in a surf of green surges. Then, again, in mountainous countries where the traveller is continually girdled by amphitheatrical heights; here and there from some lucky point of view you will catch passing glimpses of the profiles of whales defined along the undulating ridges. But you must be a thorough whaleman, to see these sights; and not only that, but if you wish to return to such a sight again, you must be sure and take the exact intersecting latitude and longitude of your first stand-point, else so chance-like are such observations of the hills, that your precise, previous stand-point would require a laborious re-discovery; like the Solomon islandsSolomon islands . . . Mendanna . . . Figueroa chronicled them: Although Alvaro de Mendaña de Neyra (1541–1595) named the Solomon Islands in 1568, Westerners did not come upon them again until the nineteenth century. Cristóbal Suarez de Figueroa recorded Mendaña’s discovery in a document cited in Typee as “History of Mendanna’s Voyage . . . 1613.” See also Ch. 52., which still remain incognita, though once high-ruffed Mendanna trod them and old Figueroa chronicled them. Nor when expandingly lifted by your subject, can you fail to trace out great whales in the starry heavens, and boats in pursuit of them; as when long filled with thoughts of war the Eastern nations saw armies locked in battle among the clouds. Thus at the North have I chased Leviathan round and round the PoleI chased Leviathan round and round the Pole: Perhaps referring to the northern constellation Draco, the Dragon, which partly wraps around Polaris, the pole star, in the Little Dipper. The brightest circumpolar constellation is the Big Dipper, which to the patient observer appears to revolve around Polaris during the night. Melville could have observed this northern phenomenon during his trip to Liverpool and back aboard the packet ship St. Lawrence in the summer of 1839. with the revolutions of the bright points that first defined him to me. And beneath the effulgent Antarctic skies I have boarded the Argo-NavisArgo-Navis . . . Cetus . . . Hydrus . . . Flying Fish: All four are southern constellations. The first three are also known as The Ship, The Whale, and The Water-Snake. The scientific name for the fourth is Piscis Volans. Melville could have observed these constellations and "Antarctic skies" twice before writing Moby-Dick: first on board the whaling ship Acushnet as it sailed west around Cape Horn in mid-April, 1841, and again heading east on board the frigate United States in mid-July, 1844., and joined the chase against the starry Cetus far beyond the utmost stretch of Hydrus and the Flying Fish. With a frigate’s anchors for my bridle-bitts and fascesfasces: distinctive bundle of rods and ax symbolizing Roman authority. of har-poons for spurs, would I could mount that whale and leap the topmost skies, to see whether the fabled heavens with all their countless tents really lie encamped beyond my mortal sight!