61 Stubb kills a Whale CHAPTER 61 STUBB KILLS A WHALE. If to Starbuck the apparition of the Squid was a thing of portents, to Queequeg it was quite a different object. “When you see him ’quid,” said the savage, honing his harpoon in the bow of his hoisted boat, “then you quick see him ’parm whale.” The next day was exceedingly still and sultrystill and sultry: Ishmael’s description echoes similar ocean “calms” inducing sleep, as in Typee (Ch. 2), or anxiety, as in Mardi (Ch. 2). See also the repeated “calm” introducing Ahab’s soliloquies in “The Sphynx” (Ch. 70) and “The Gilder” (Ch. 114)., and with nothing special to engage them, the Pequod’s crew could hardly resist the spell of sleep induced by such a vacant sea. For this part of the Indian Ocean through which we then wereREVISION NARRATIVE: we then were voyaging // Throughout Moby-Dick, Melville uses time modifiers such as “then” to remind readers of Ishmael’s narrative distance from the events he is relating. Here, the oddly placed adverb calls attention to itself. The British edition, however, repositions the word to give the more conventional “we were then voyaging.” Either Melville or an editor may have performed this subtle stylistic modulation. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin. voyaging is not what whalemen call a lively ground; that is, it affords fewer glimpses of porpoises, dolphins, flying-fish, and other vivacious denizens of more stirring waters, than those off the Rio de la PlataSee note for "the Plate" in Ch. 51., or the in-shore groundin-shore ground: The area of the Pacific 60 to 225 miles off the Peruvian coast, so called by whalemen to distinguish it from the “off-shore ground” further west. off Peru. It was my turn to stand at the foremast-headforemast-head: the top of the foremast, the mast closest to the front of the ship.; and with my shoulders leaning against the slackened royal shroudsslackened royal shrouds: These ropes, which help to hold up the mast, are slackened either because the Pequod is now in warm weather, and the shrouds, made tight in a Massachusetts December, have relaxed, or because, as was often done on the whaling grounds, the royal yard (with its sail) has been taken down, and the shrouds, no longer needing to be tight to handle the royal sail’s stress on the mast, have been eased to minimize wear and tear., to and fro I idly swayed in what seemed an enchanted air. No resolution could withstand it; in that dreamy mood losing all consciousness, at last my soul went out of my body; though my body still continued to sway as a pendulum will, long after the power which first moved it is withdrawn. Ere forgetfulness altogether came over me, I had noticed that the seamen at the main and mizen mast-heads were already drowsy. So that at last all three of us lifelessly swung from the spars, and for every swing that we made there was a nod from below from the slumbering helmsman. The waves, too, nodded their indolent crests; and across the wide trance of the sea, east nodded to west, and the sun over all. Suddenly bubbles seemed bursting beneath my closed eyes; like vices my hands grasped the shrouds; some invisible, gracious agency preserved me; with a shock I came back to life. And lo! close under our lee, not forty fathoms off, a gigantic Sperm Whale lay rolling in the water like the capsized hull of a frigate, his broad, glossy back, of an EthiopianEthiopian: A native of Ethiopia and a term used in the early to mid-19th century to designate dark-skinned Africans generally; performers of black minstrelsy (usually white men in blackface) were also referred to as “Ethiopians.” Melville uses the word here to mean “black,” and earlier in “The Ship,” Ch. 16, he describes the Pequod’s exotic decoration as being like that of "any barbaric Ethiopian emperor.” hue, glistening in the sun’s rays like a mirror. But lazily undulating in the trough of the sea, and ever and anon tranquilly spouting his vapory jet, the whale looked like a portly burgherburgher: middle-class citizen of a town (Dutch). smoking his pipe of a warm afternoon. But that pipe, poor whale, was thy last. As if struck by some enchanter’s wand, the sleepy ship and every sleeper in it all at once started into wakefulness; and more than a score of voices from all parts of the vessel, simultaneously with the three notes from aloft, shouted forth the accustomed cry, as the great fish slowly and regularly spouted the sparkling brine into the air. “Clear away the boats! LuffLuff: To luff is to turn the ship into the wind so that the sails cease to draw and begin to shiver; this causes the ship to slow down.!” cried Ahab. And obeying his own order, he dashed the helm downdashed the helm down: To put the helm down is to push the tiller, which moves the ship's rudder, away from the wind, thereby turning the vessel itself toward the wind, and stopping or slowing the ship. However, to achieve the same end on a ship that uses a wheel to move the rudder, the wheel must be turned into, not away from, the wind. before the helmsman could handle the spokesspokes: That is, the spokes extending beyond the rim of the wheel used to turn the rudder and guide the ship. Melville is inconsistent on whether the Pequod is guided by a tiller or a wheel. Ishmael’s memorable description of the Pequod’s staff-like, whalebone tiller in Ch. 16, its striking his side in Ch. 96, and its appearance once again in Ch. 123 are at variance with the spoked wheel here and in Ch. 118. The inconsistency is likely the result of error, or possibly of incomplete revision. Melville’s first whaling ship, the Acushnet, probably had a wheel mounted on its tiller, as does the Acushnet’s sister ship, the Charles W. Morgan of Mystic, Connecticut, the only surviving American wooden whaleship.. The sudden exclamations of the crew must have alarmed the whale; and ere the boats were down, majestically turning, he swam away to the leeward, but with such a steady tranquillity, and making so few ripples as he swam, that thinking after all he might not as yet be alarmed, Ahab gave orders that not an oar should be used, and no man must speak but in whispers. So seated like Ontario IndiansOntario Indians: a common expression for any of the thirteen First Nations peoples who populate the Canadian province of Ontario. Melville surely witnessed indigenous people canoeing during his 1840 trip out West, the Great Lakes portion of which borders Ontario, or during his honeymoon in Canada in 1847. Depictions of paddling Native Americans, in books, magazine, and prints, were also common. on the gunwalesgunwales: pronounced GUNuhls, the upper edges of a boat's sides. of the boats, we swiftly but silently paddledsilently paddled: To approach a whale more quietly, whalers switched from oars to paddles. along; the calm not admitting of the noiseless sails being set. Presently, as we thus glided in chase, the monster perpendicularly flitted his tail forty feet into the air, and then sank out of sight like a tower swallowed up. There go flukes!There go flukes!: “The whale is diving!” (showing its tail).” was the cry, an announcement immediately followed by Stubb’s producing his match and igniting his pipe, for now a respite was granted. After the full interval of his soundingsounding: diving had elapsed, the whale rose again, and being now in advance of the smoker’s boat, and much nearer to it than to any of the others, Stubb counted upon the honor of the capture. It was obvious, now, that the whale had at length become aware of his pursuers. All silence of cautiousness was therefore no longer of use. Paddles were dropped, and oars came loudly into play. And still puffing at his pipe, Stubb cheered on his crew to the assault. Yes, a mighty change had come over the fish. All alive to his jeopardy, he was going “head out;” that part obliquely projecting from the mad yeast which he brewed.* Start her, start her, my menStart her, start her, my men!: A call to make the boat spring forward, perhaps implying (in Stubb’s facetious fashion) that it is still stationary and the men must start it as one might pop a cork. In his “Horoscope” column appearing in Frederick Douglass’s Paper in March 1856, noted African American activist James McCune Smith (1813-1865), writing under the name “Communipaw,” praises New York editor Horace Greeley (1811-1872), for his stirring leadership against slavery, calling him a “‘boatsteerer’ of the Whig party” and comparing him to “Stubb in Moby Dick.” Smith quotes Stubb’s speech to his boat crew in its entirety, with Stubb’s refrain, “Start her, start her,” as a rallying cry for abolition. The use of Moby-Dick suggests that Melville’s work had penetrated African American intellectual spheres. See John Stauffer's The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race.! Don’t hurry yourselves; take plenty of time—but start her; start her like thunder-claps, that’s all,” cried Stubb, spluttering out the smoke as he spoke. “Start her, now; give ’em the long and strong stroke, Tashtego. Start her, Tash, my boy—start her, all; but keep cool, keep cool—cucumbers is the word—easy, easy—only start her like grim death and grinning devils, and raise the buried dead perpendicular out of their graves, boys—that’s all. Start her!” ____________________________________________________ * [Melville's Note] It will be seen in some other placesome other place: see Ch. 76. of what a very light substance the entire interior of the sperm whale’s enormous head consists. Though apparently the most massive, it is by far the most buoyant part about him. So that with ease he elevates it in the air, and invariably does so when going at his utmost speed. Besides, such is the breadth of the upper part of the front of his head, and such the tapering cut-water formation of the lower part, that by obliquely elevating his head, he thereby may be said to transform himself from a bluff-bowed sluggish galliotgalliot . . . pilot-boat: Melville’s footnote borrows freely from Thomas Beale, The Natural History of the Sperm Whale. A galliot is a slow, old-fashioned Dutch or Flemish cargo vessel that resembles the whale in its blunt bow, rounded sides, and flattened bottom. Pilot-boats, in contrast, were sleek in their bows in order to be fast and maneuverable, both qualities that were necessary to reach incoming ships in order to put aboard a pilot to guide the ship into the harbor. into a sharp-pointed New York pilot-boat. _______________________________________ “Woo-hoo! Wa-hee!” screamed the Gay-Header in reply, raising some old war-whoop to the skies; as every oarsman in the strained boat involuntarily bounced forward with the one tremendous leading stroke which the eager Indian gave. But his wild screams were answered by others quite as wild. “Kee-hee! Kee-hee!” yelled Daggoo, straining forwards and backwards on his seat, like a pacing tiger in his cage. “Ka-la! Koo-loo!” howled Queequeg, as if smacking his lips over a mouthful of Grenadier’s steakGrenadier’s steak: Apparently, a large steak for a hearty, elite foot soldier. However, in his 1849 London journal Melville reports eating beef several times at various restaurants. The Grenadier, located off Belgrave Square not far from publisher John Murray’s office on Albemarle Street, which Melville visited frequently, specialized in (and still serves) Beef Wellington. So, Melville may also be alluding to this restaurant’s dish—a filet mignon wrapped in pastry—as the Grenadier’s steak.. And thus with oars and yells the keels cut the sea. Meanwhile, Stubb retaining his place in the van, still encouraged his men to the onset, all the while puffing the smoke from his mouth. Like desperadoes they tugged and they strained, till the welcome cry was heard—“Stand up, Tashtego!—give it to him!” The harpoon was hurled. “Stern all!” The oarsmen backed waterbacked water: rowed backward.; the same moment something went hot and hissing along every one of their wrists. It was the magical line. An instant before, Stubb had swiftly caught two additional turns with it round the loggerhead, whence, by reason of its increased rapid circlings, a hempen blue smoke now jetted up and mingled with the steady fumes from his pipe. As the line passed round and round the loggerhead; so also, just before reaching that point, it blisteringly passed through and through both of Stubb’s hands, from which the hand-cloths, or squares of quilted canvas sometimes worn at these times, had accidentally dropped. It was like holding an enemy’s sharp two-edged sword by the blade, and that enemy all the time striving to wrest it out of your clutch. Wet the lineWet the line!: Stubb wants the line wetted in order to keep it from charring with the friction caused by the line's being pulled so quickly around the loggerhead. Such charring could cause the line to weaken and even to break.! wet the line!” cried Stubb to the tub oarsman (him seated by the tub) who, snatching off his hat, dashed the sea-water into it.* More turns were taken, so that ____________________________________________________ * [Melville's Note] Partly to show the indispensableness of this act, it may here be stated, that, in the old Dutch fishery, a mop was used to dash the running line with water; in many other ships, a wooden piggin, or bailer, is set apart for that purpose. Your hat, however, is the most convenient. _______________________________________ the line began holding its place. The boat now flew through the boiling water like a shark all fins. Stubb and Tashtego here changed places—stem for stern—a staggering business truly in that rocking commotion. From the vibrating line extending the entire length of the upper part of the boat, and from its now being more tight than a harpstring, you would have thought the craft had two keels—one cleaving the water, the other the air—as the boat churned on through both opposing elements at once. A continual cascade played at the bows; a ceaseless whirling eddy in her wake; and, at the slightest motion from within, even but of a little finger, the vibrating, cracking craft canted over her spasmodic gunwale into the sea. Thus they rushed; each man with might and main clinging to his seat, to prevent being tossed to the foam; and the tall form of Tashtego at the steering oar crouching almost double, in order to bring down his centre of gravity. Whole Atlantics and Pacifics seemed passed as they shot on their way, till at length the whale somewhat slackened his flight. “Haul in—haul in!” cried Stubb to the bowsmanbowsman: Rower seated behind the harpooneer at the bow of the whaleboat. See also Ch. 54, "The Town-Ho's Story."; and, facing round towards the whale, all hands began pulling the boat up to him, while yet the boat was being towed on. Soon ranging up by his flank, Stubb, firmly planting his knee in the clumsy cleat, darted dart after dart into the flying fish; at the word of command, the boat alternately sterning out of the way of the whale’s horrible wallow, and then ranging up for another fling. The red tide now poured from all sides of the monster like brooks down a hill. His tormented body rolled not in brine but in blood, which bubbled and seethed for furlongs behind in their wake. The slanting sun playing upon this crimson pond in the sea, sent back its reflection into every face, so that they all glowed to each other like red men. And all the while, jet after jet of white smoke was agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whale, and vehement puff after puff from the mouth of the excited headsman; as at every dart, hauling in upon his crooked lancecrooked lance: The iron of the killing lance is not hardened so that it will bend rather than break when the whale's muscles contract around it. (by the line attached to it), Stubb straightened it again and again, by a few rapid blows against the gunwale, then again and again sent it into the whale. “Pull up—pull up!” he now cried to the bowsman, as the waning whale relaxed in his wrath. “Pull up!—close to!” and the boat ranged along the fish’s flank. When reaching far over the bow, Stubb slowly churned his long sharp lance into the fish, and kept it there, carefully churning and churning, as if cautiously seeking to feel after some gold watch that the whale might have swallowed, and which he was fearful of breaking ere he could hook it out. But that gold watch he sought was the innermost life of the fish. And now it is struck; for, starting from his trance into that unspeakable thing called his “flurry,” the monster horribly wallowed in his blood, overwrapped himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, so that the imperilled craft, instantly dropping astern, had much ado blindly to struggle out from that phrensied twilight into the clear air of the day. And now abating in his flurry, the whale once more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilating and contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His heart had burst! “He’s dead, Mr. Stubb,” said Daggoo“He’s dead, Mr. Stubb,” said Daggoo. // Given that Stubb and his boat crew (including his harpooneer, Tashtego) have been separated from the other boats, the context clearly calls for Native American Tashtego, not the African Daggoo, to declare the whale dead. Melville seems to have mixed up his harpooneers, replacing the expected Tashtego with the otherwise absent Daggoo. This inconsistency also appears in the British edition. Assuming “Daggoo” to be Melville’s inadvertent error worthy of correction, the NN editors emend their text to read “said Tashtego.” However, another possibility is that the inconsistency is the result of an incomplete manuscript revision involving Daggoo, in which Melville inscribed “said Daggoo” but neglected to make further revisions in earlier paragraphs that would place him on the scene. Whether an error or an incomplete revision, the inconsistency is a possible opening into Melville’s creative process, and MEL makes no change but notes the matter here.. “Yes; both pipes smoked out!” and withdrawing his own from his mouth, Stubb scattered the dead ashes over the water; and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made.