Annotations and Commentary on Moby Dick

by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 2018

Last Updated 04 Jun 2018

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Melville gives the word for whale in many languages, the first being Hebrew. And it is here he makes his first mistake. The Hebrew word for whale is "livyatan". However, the word for "crocodile" is "tanin", and several major translations have translated this as "whale". At some point a major Biblical scholar mis-read "tanin" as "tanim" and decided that it must be a plural, of which "tan" would be the singular. So the word "tanin" became "tanim", and then was truncated to "tan", which Melville misremembered as "chan" (chet-nun). ("Tan" means "jackal", not "whale", but hey, at least it is an animal. "Chan" means "grace" or "charm",)

Printers then apparently confused the similar-looking chet and heh, and nun and kaf, changing it into "heh-kaf", or "hakh", which seems to be what is printed in current editions, but does not mean anything so far as I know.

[I wish HTML had codes for Hebrew letters!]

(Information from "Hunting the Whale: Harpooning a Hebrew 'Moby Dick'", THE FORWARD,

What is most interesting about all this is that all these shifts occurred in the written language. We are often told that when language started to be widely written down, it became more frozen, and we would not have the massive changes we saw between (say) Beowulf and Shakespeare. But writing evidently carries its own dangers.


Some people cite "higgledy-piggledy" as a word Melville coined, but the The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary says otherwise.

However, Melville did coin "cetology" ("the study of whales").

"Vaticans" here refers to the Vatican library, although the word derives from "vaticinia", or prophecies.

There are still street-stalls of books in Rome, and Paris, and even in New York.

"Profane" here means secular, rather than its now more common usage as irreligious or disrespectful.

"Higgledy-piggledy" means all jumbled up, without order, or is assumed to have an etymology relating to a herd of pigs. The construction of the phrases is similar to "harum-scarum" and other such coined phrases. We also see something similar in "talk-shmalk" or other Yiddish-inspired variations. Undoubtedly linguists have spent a lot of time studying these.

"Gospel cetology" would be absolutely true statements about whales (as in "gospel truth"). "Veritable", although also derived from the Latin for truth, actually implies a non-absolute status, though not quite as partial as "virtual".

Pale Sherry actually has a higher alcohol content than wine.

Hampton Court was the home of the British Royal family, and the Tuileries was the home to the French royal family.

The idea of heaven having seven levels (or stories) originated in Mesopotamia before the rise of the Abrahamic religions and appears in all of them as well as in Hinduism.

Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael are archangels who share the feast day of September 29 in the Roman Catholic Church. Michael and Gabriel are recognized by all the Abrahamic faiths; Raphael is mentioned in the Book of Tobit and is recognized by the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox faiths. Islam also recognizes Israfil and Azrael; Judaism also includes Metatron. Uriel is also recognized by some groups. Apparently Melville was most familiar with the Roman Catholic archangels.


"And God created great whales." --GENESIS. [Genesis 1:21]

"Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him; One would think the deep to be hoary." --JOB. [Job 41:32, though it is clear that the Leviathan described in Chapter 41 is not a whale.]

"Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah." --JONAH. [Jonah 1:17, but even though the story is always referred to as "Jonah and the whale", a whale is not a fish.]

"There go the ships; there is that Leviathan whom thou hast made to play therein." --PSALMS. [Psalm 104, Verse 26]

"In that day, the Lord with his sore, and great, and strong sword, shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." --ISAIAH [Isaiah 27:1, but a whale is not a serpent either.]

"And what thing soever besides cometh within the chaos of this monster's mouth, be it beast, boat, or stone, down it goes all incontinently that foul great swallow of his, and perisheth in the bottomless gulf of his paunch." --HOLLAND'S PLUTARCH'S MORALS. Philemon Holland published the first English translation of Plutarch's Moralia in 1603.

"The Indian Sea breedeth the most and the biggest fishes that are: among which the Whales and Whirlpooles called Balaene, take up as much in length as four acres or arpens of land." --HOLLAND'S PLINY. Philemon Holland's most popular translation was in 1601, of Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia. Again, this was the first translation into English of this work. Pliny had finished it but was still making corrections when he died in the Vesuvius eruption of 79.

"Scarcely had we proceeded two days on the sea, when about sunrise a great many Whales and other monsters of the sea, appeared. Among the former, one was of a most monstrous size.... This came towards us, open-mouthed, raising the waves on all sides, and beating the sea before him into a foam." --TOOKE'S LUCIAN. "THE TRUE HISTORY." William Tooke published an English translation of Lucian of Sarasota's True History in 1820. Tooke was known primarily for his works about Russia.

"He visited this country also with a view of catching horse-whales, which had bones of very great value for their teeth, of which he brought some to the king.... The best whales were catched in his own country, of which some were forty-eight, some fifty yards long. He said that he was one of six who had killed sixty in two days." --OTHER OR OTHER'S VERBAL NARRATIVE TAKEN DOWN FROM HIS MOUTH BY KING ALFRED, A.D. 890. Alfred was King of England, also know as Alfred the Great; Other (or Octher) was apparently a Norse sailor. "Horse-whales" were walruses.

"And whereas all the other things, whether beast or vessel, that enter into the dreadful gulf of this monster's (whale's) mouth, are immediately lost and swallowed up, the sea-gudgeon retires into it in great security, and there sleeps." --MONTAIGNE. --APOLOGY FOR RAIMOND SEBOND. Michel de Montaigne wrote this essay on skepticism in 1580. A "sea-gudgeon" is fish also known as a "black goby".

"Let us fly, let us fly! Old Nick take me if is not Leviathan described by the noble prophet Moses in the life of patient Job." --RABELAIS. This is spoken by a character named Panurge in Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book 4, Chapter 33, which François Rabelais wrote between 1532 and 1552. "Old Nick" is the Devil. Leviathan is described in the Book of Job, though the description is not that of a whale. Panurge is wrong in attributing the description to Moses, though--while the first five books of the Bible are traditionally attributed to Moses, the Book of Job is not.

"This whale's liver was two cartloads." --STOWE'S ANNALS. John Stow wrote Anales, or a Generale Chronicle of England from Brute until the present years of Christ 1580.

"The great Leviathan that maketh the seas to seethe like boiling pan." --LORD BACON'S VERSION OF THE PSALMS. Francis Bacon translated seven psalms (1, 12, 90, 104, 126, 137,and 149) into English in 1625. This is from Psalm 104.

"Touching that monstrous bulk of the whale or ork we have received nothing certain. They grow exceeding fat, insomuch that an incredible quantity of oil will be extracted out of one whale." --IBID. "HISTORY OF LIFE AND DEATH." Historia Vitae et Mortia was written by Bacon in 1623. The "ork" is what we now call "orca".

"The sovereignest thing on earth is parmacetti for an inward bruise." --KING HENRY. This is said by Hotspur (Sir Henry Percy), in William Shakespeare's King Henry IV, Part I, Act I, Scene iii. Hotspur led rebellions against King Henry IV but was killed in 1403 at the Battle of Shrewsbury. Melville leaves off parts of the name of the play, which makes it seem as though one of the King Henrys said it. "Parmacetti" is an older form of the word "spermaceti".

"Very like a whale." --HAMLET. Polonius says this in a dialogue with Hamlet in Act III, Scene ii.

"Which to secure, no skill of leach's art
Mote him availle, but to returne againe
To his wound's worker, that with lowly dart,
Dinting his breast, had bred his restless paine,
Like as the wounded whale to shore flies thro' the maine."

This would be Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen, published in two parts in 1590 and 1596. This is from Book VI, the final book of the first part. The "maine" (or "main") was the "Mainland Provinces" of Spain: Florida, Texas, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. It became used to mean the coastlines of these areas, and then the seas along them.

"Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies can in a peaceful calm trouble the ocean til it boil." --SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT. PREFACE TO GONDIBERT. Gondibert was an epic poem written in 1651.

"What spermacetti is, men might justly doubt, since the learned Hosmannus in his work of thirty years, saith plainly, Nescio quid sit." --SIR T. BROWNE. OF SPERMA CETI AND THE SPERMA CETI WHALE. VIDE HIS V.E. Hosmannus was Johann Jacob Hofmann; his Lexicon Universale took thirty years to write. In Latin, "nescio quid sit" means "I do not know what it is." "Vide his V.E." means "see his 'Vulgar Errors', or 'Pseudodoxia Epidemica'".

"Like Spencer's Talus with his modern flail
He threatens ruin with his ponderous tail.
Their fixed jav'lins in his side he wears,
And on his back a grove of pikes appears."

Edmund Waller's poems were published in 1645. Talus was a metal man (a robot, basically) with a flail. As a robot, he never tires.

"By art is created that great Leviathan, called a Commonwealth or State--(in Latin, Civitas) which is but an artificial man." --OPENING SENTENCE OF HOBBES'S LEVIATHAN. Thomas Hobbes wrote the philosophical work Leviathan during the English Civil War (1642-1651), but the title is purely allegorical.

"Silly Mansoul swallowed it without chewing, as if it had been a sprat in the mouth of a whale." --PILGRIM'S PROGRESS. John Bunyan published Pilgrim's Progress in 1678. A sprat is a small herring.

"That sea beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream." --PARADISE LOST.

John Milton published his epic poem Paradise Lost in 1667, and then a revised version in 1674.

---"There Leviathan,
Hugest of living creatures, in the deep
Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims,
And seems a moving land; and at his gills
Draws in, and at his breath spouts out a sea." --IBID.

"Ibid" is short for "ibidem", meaning "in the same place".

"The mighty whales which swim in a sea of water, and have a sea of oil swimming in them." --FULLLER'S PROFANE AND HOLY STATE. The full title of Thomas Fuller's 1642 work is The Holy State and the Profane State.

"So close behind some promontory lie
The huge Leviathan to attend their prey,
And give no chance, but swallow in the fry,
Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way."

John Dryden published "Annus Mirabilus" ("Year of Miracles" or "Year of Wonders") in 1667. The year was 1665-1666 and the title is ironic--that was the time of the Great Plague and the Great Fire. "Fry" are very young fish.

"While the whale is floating at the stern of the ship, they cut off his head, and tow it with a boat as near the shore as it will come; but it will be aground in twelve or thirteen feet water." --THOMAS EDGE'S TEN VOYAGES TO SPITZBERGEN, IN PURCHAS. Thomas Edge was English, but made his sealing and whaling voyages between 1609 and 1619 for the Muscovy Company.

"In their way they saw many whales sporting in the ocean, and in wantonness fuzzing up the water through their pipes and vents, which nature has placed on their shoulders." --SIR T. HERBERT'S VOYAGES INTO ASIA AND AFRICA. HARRIS COLL. Sir Thomas Herbert was an Englishman who traveled to Persia and other areas and wrote his travelogue from 1634 to 1677.

"Here they saw such huge troops of whales, that they were forced to proceed with a great deal of caution for fear they should run their ship upon them." --SCHOUTEN'S SIXTH CIRCUMNAVIGATION. William Cornelison Schouten co-wrote this with Jacques Le Maire about his voyage of 1615 to 1617.

"We set sail from the Elbe, wind N.E. in the ship called The Jonas-in-the-Whale.... Some say the whale can't open his mouth, but that is a fable.... They frequently climb up the masts to see whether they can see a whale, for the first discoverer has a ducat for his pains.... I was told of a whale taken near Shetland, that had above a barrel of herrings in his belly.... One of our harpooneers told me that he caught once a whale in Spitzbergen that was white all over." --A VOYAGE TO GREENLAND, A.D. 1671 HARRIS COLL. This was written by Frederich Martens.

"Several whales have come in upon this coast (Fife) Anno 1652, one eighty feet in length of the whale-bone kind came in, which (as I was informed), besides a vast quantity of oil, did afford 500 weight of baleen. The jaws of it stand for a gate in the garden of Pitferren." --SIBBALD'S FIFE AND KINROSS. The full title is The History, Ancient and Odern, of the Sherriffdoms of Fife and Kinross: With the Description of Both, and of the Firths of Forth and Tay, and the Islands in Them ... with an Account of the Natural Products of the Land and Waters by Robert Sibbald, published in 1710.

"Myself have agreed to try whether I can master and kill this Sperma-ceti whale, for I could never hear of any of that sort that was killed by any man, such is his fierceness and swiftness." --RICHARD STRAFFORD'S LETTER FROM THE BERMUDAS. PHIL. TRANS. A.D. 1668. I cannot find any reference to this other then this reference.

"Whales in the sea God's voice obey." --N. E. PRIMER. This would be the New England Primer, a schoolbook for young children.

"We saw also abundance of large whales, there being more in those southern seas, as I may say, by a hundred to one; than we have to the northward of us." --CAPTAIN COWLEY'S VOYAGE ROUND THE GLOBE, A.D. 1729. William Abrosia Cowley was an English buccaneer who circumnavigated the globe. He published the first chart of the Galápagos Islands in 1684.

"... and the breath of the whale is frequently attended with such an insupportable smell, as to bring on a disorder of the brain." --ULLOA'S SOUTH AMERICA. Antonio de Ulloa was an 18th century Spanish scientist and mathematician. He was in Ecuador from 1736 to 1744. His account of the French Geodesic Expedition was published in 1748 and translated into English in 1806.

"To fifty chosen sylphs of special note,
We trust the important charge, the petticoat.
Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail,
Tho' stuffed with hoops and armed with ribs of whale."

Alexander Pope first published The Rape of the Lock in 1712; after several interim versions the final version appeared in 1717. It has been described as "ock-heroic" and "high burlesque."

"If we compare land animals in respect to magnitude, with those that take up their abode in the deep, we shall find they will appear contemptible in the comparison. The whale is doubtless the largest animal in creation." --GOLDSMITH, NAT. HIST. The Irish novelist Oliver Goldsmith eight-volume work, A History of the Earth and Animated Nature was published posthumously in 1774. Goldsmith is better known for such works as The Vicar of Wakefield.

"If you should write a fable for little fishes, you would make them speak like great wales." --GOLDSMITH TO JOHNSON. Oliver Goldsmith, speaking to Samuel Johnson. When Johnson heard Goldsmith was writing a natural history, said, "Goldsmith, sir, will give us a very fine book upon the subject; but if he can distinguish a cow from a horse, that, I believe, may be the extent of his knowledge of natural history." However, when Johnson wrote Goldsmith's epitaph, he called him "A Poet, Naturalist, and Historian."

"In the afternoon we saw what was supposed to be a rock, but it was found to be a dead whale, which some Asiatics had killed, and were then towing ashore. They seemed to endeavor to conceal themselves behind the whale, in order to avoid being seen by us." --COOK'S VOYAGES. Captain James Cook was a British explorer who made three voyages to the South Pacific. His first voyage (1768-1771) was to observe a transit of Venus, but he also became the first European to visit the Sandwich Islands (now called Hawai'i) and the eastern coast of Australia, and he also circumnavigated New Zealand. On his third voyage, he explored the Bering Strait, but was killed in the Sandwich Islands while attempting to kidnap the king.

"The larger whales, they seldom venture to attack. They stand in so great dread of some of them, that when out at sea they are afraid to mention even their names, and carry dung, lime-stone, juniper-wood, and some other articles of the same nature in their boats, in order to terrify and prevent their too near approach." --UNO VON TROIL'S LETTERS ON BANKS'S AND SOLANDER'S VOYAGE TO ICELAND IN 1772. Uno Von Troil was archbishop of Uppsala from 1786 to 1803. Joseph Banks was an English botanist who accompanied Cook on Cook's first voyage, and then visited Iceland in 1772. After his return to England, he continued to sponsor expeditions and was active in international scientific efforts.

"The Spermacetti Whale found by the Nantuckois, is an active, fierce animal, and requires vast address and boldness in the fishermen." --THOMAS JEFFERSON'S WHALE MEMORIAL TO THE FRENCH MINISTER IN 1778. Thomas Jefferson was an avid naturalist in addition to writing the Declaration of Independence and being the third President of the United States. He was particularly interested in what flora and fauna the Lewis & Clark Expedition (which took place during his Presidency) would find, and believed that there were still live mastodons and megalonyxes in the unexplored territories of North America.

"And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it?" --EDMUND BURKE'S REFERENCE IN PARLIAMENT TO THE NANTUCKET WHALE-FISHERY. Edmund Burke was an Irish statesman, author, and philosopher who moved to London in 1750 and served in the House of Commons as a Whig from 1766 to 1794..He is best known as the author of Reflections on the Revolution in France. (He was against it, though he was also against the idea of the divine right of kings.) This quote is probably referring to his comments about the whaling industry in his "Reconciliation with America" speech to Parliament (22 March 1775).

"Spain--a great whale stranded on the shores of Europe." --EDMUND BURKE. (SOMEWHERE.) See above.

"A tenth branch of the king's ordinary revenue, said to be grounded on the consideration of his guarding and protecting the seas from pirates and robbers, is the right to royal fish, which are whale and sturgeon. And these, when either thrown ashore or caught near the coast, are the property of the king." --BLACKSTONE. This would be William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in four volumes from 1765 to 1769 and probably the major work on British jurisprudence.

"Soon to the sport of death the crews repair:
Rodmond unerring o'er his head suspends
The barbed steel, and every turn attends."

William Falconer's "The Shipwreck" was an epic poem of close to 3000 lines published in 1762 and recounting the last voyage of the merchant ship Britannia. Falconer was a seaman, though not on the Britannia.

"Bright shone the roofs, the domes, the spires,
And rockets blew self driven,
To hang their momentary fire
Around the vault of heaven.

"So fire with water to compare,
The ocean serves on high,
Up-spouted by a whale in air,
To express unwieldy joy." --COWPER, ON THE QUEEN'S VISIT TO LONDON.

William Cowper wrote "On the Queen's Visit to London, The Night of the 17th March 1789" presumably about a visit by Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III.

"Ten or fifteen gallons of blood are thrown out of the heart at a stroke, with immense velocity." --JOHN HUNTER'S ACCOUNT OF THE DISSECTION OF A WHALE. (A SMALL SIZED ONE.) John Hunter was a surgeon, anatomist, and naturalist who studied the whales that mistakenly swam up the Thames to london, particularly a bottlenose whale in 1783.

"The aorta of a whale is larger in the bore than the main pipe of the water-works at London Bridge, and the water roaring in its passage through that pipe is inferior in impetus and velocity to the blood gushing from the whale's heart." --PALEY'S THEOLOGY. William Paley was a British theologian and philosopher who published Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Diety in 1802. He is best know for the "watchmaker analogy" for a proof of God.

"The whale is a mammiferous animal without hind feet." --BARON CUVIER. Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric, baron Cuvier, also known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist and zoologist, and called "the father of paleontology." He lived in from 1769 to 1832.

"In 40 degrees south, we saw Spermacetti Whales, but did not take any till the first of May, the sea being then covered with them." --COLNETT'S VOYAGE FOR THE PURPOSE OF EXTENDING THE SPERMACETI WHALE FISHERY. James Colnett was an explorer known primarily for his two fur-trading voyages between 1786 and 1791, but in 1792 he sailed to the Galapagos Islands to investigate whaling in that region.

"In the free element beneath me swam,
Floundered and dived, in play, in chace, in battle,
Fishes of every colour, form, and kind;
Which language cannot paint, and mariner
Had never seen; from dread Leviathan
To insect millions peopling every wave:
Gather'd in shoals immense, like floating islands,
Led by mysterious instincts through that waste
And trackless region, though on every side
Assaulted by voracious enemies,
Whales, sharks, and monsters, arm'd in front or jaw,
With swords, saws, spiral horns, or hooked fangs."

James Montgomery was a Scottish poet of the early 19th century. He wrote The World Before the Flood in 1812. It was "a piece of historical reconstruction in ten cantos" written in heroic couplets.

"Io! Paean! Io! sing.
To the finny people's king.
Not a mightier whale than this
In the vast Atlantic is;
Not a fatter fish than he,
Flounders round the Polar Sea."

Charles Lamb was a poet and essayist from the late 18th and early 19th century. He is best known for his Essays of Elia and (with his sister Mary) Tales from Shakespeare, a re-telling for children of some of Shakespeare's plays. "Triumph of the Whale" was published in 1812 and was a satire on the Prince Regent. The Prince Regent later became King George IV; he was named Prince Regent in 1811 due to the mental illness of his father (King George III) and remained Regent until his father's death in 1820.

"In the year 1690 some persons were on a high hill observing the whales spouting and sporting with each other, when one observed: there--pointing to the sea--is a green pasture where our children's grand-children will go for bread." --OBED MACY'S HISTORY OF NANTUCKET. Obed Macy lived in the first half of the 19th century. In addition to writing a history of Nantucket, he was an early settler of the Los Angeles area of California.

"I built a cottage for Susan and myself and made a gateway in the form of a Gothic Arch, by setting up a whale's jaw bones." --HAWTHORNE'S TWICE TOLD TALES. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a Massachusetts author of the early 19th century and a very close friend of Melville. (Indeed, some literary historians postulate that they were lovers.) Hawthorne also had a very strong influence on Melville's writing.

"She came to bespeak a monument for her first love, who had been killed by a whale in the Pacific ocean, no less than forty years ago." --IBID.

"No, Sir, 'tis a Right Whale," answered Tom; "I saw his sprout; he threw up a pair of as pretty rainbows as a Christian would wish to look at. He's a raal oil-butt, that fellow!" --COOPER'S PILOT. James Fenimore Cooper was an American author of the early 19th century. He is best known for his frontier "Leatherstocking Tales". The unrelated novel The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea was published in 1823 or 1824 and is the story of a naval pilot during the American Revolution.

"The papers were brought in, and we saw in the Berlin Gazette that whales had been introduced on the stage there." --ECKERMANN'S CONVERSATIONS WITH GOETHE. Johann Peter Eckermann was a German author of the early 19th century, best known for this result of his collaboration with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

"My God! Mr. Chace, what is the matter?" I answered, "we have been stove by a whale." --"NARRATIVE OF THE SHIPWRECK OF THE WHALE SHIP ESSEX OF NANTUCKET, WHICH WAS ATTACKED AND FINALLY DESTROYED BY A LARGE SPERM WHALE IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN." BY OWEN CHACE OF NANTUCKET, FIRST MATE OF SAID VESSEL. NEW YORK, 1821. This would require an entire book to annotate--and there have been those, including In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick. This narrative was the inspiration for Moby-Dick. The Essex was stove by a whale in 1820 and sank; only eight of the crew survived the 95-day ordeal in the three remaining whaleboats. Contrary to the depiction in the film, In the Heart of the Sea, Melville never met any of the survivors before writing Moby-Dick, though he did meet the son of one of them and, many years later, the captain of the Essex.

"A mariner sat in the shrouds one night,
The wind was piping free;
Now bright, now dimmed, was the moonlight pale,
And the phospher gleamed in the wake of the whale,
As it floundered in the sea."

Elizabeth Oakes Smith was an American poet of the mid-19th century. "The Drowned Mariner" was written in the early 1840s. Smith's father died at sea when she was two years old.

"The quantity of line withdrawn from the boats engaged in the capture of this one whale, amounted altogether to 10,440 yards or nearly six English miles....

"Sometimes the whale shakes its tremendous tail in the air, which, cracking like a whip, resounds to the distance of three or four miles." --SCORESBY. As noted elsewhere, William Scoresby was an early 19th century Arctic explorer who wrote Account of the Arctic Regions with a History and Description of the Northern Whale Fishery. Phillip Pullman named his character Lee Scoresby after Lee Van Cleef (whose looks Pullman used as the model for the character's) and William Scoresby.

"Mad with the agonies he endures from these fresh attacks, the infuriated Sperm Whale rolls over and over; he rears his enormous head, and with wide expanded jaws snaps at everything around him; he rushes at the boats with his head; they are propelled before him with vast swiftness, and sometimes utterly destroyed.... It is a matter of great astonishment that the consideration of the habits of so interesting, and, in a commercial point of view, so important an animal (as the Sperm Whale) should have been so entirely neglected, or should have excited so little curiosity among the numerous, and many of them competent observers, that of late years, must have possessed the most abundant and the most convenient opportunities of witnessing their habitudes." --THOMAS BEALE'S HISTORY OF THE SPERM WHALE, 1839. Thomas Beale was a Scottish naturalist and opium speculator of the early 19th century.

"The Cachalot" (Sperm Whale) "is not only better armed than the True Whale" (Greenland or Right Whale) "in possessing a formidable weapon at either extremity of its body, but also more frequently displays a disposition to employ these weapons offensively and in manner at once so artful, bold, and mischievous, as to lead to its being regarded as the most dangerous to attack of all the known species of the whale tribe." --FREDERICK DEBELL BENNETT'S WHALING VOYAGE ROUND THE GLOBE, 1840. Bennett was the ship's surgeon on a whaling voyage from 1833 to 1836.

October 13. "There she blows," was sung out from the mast-head.
"Where away?" demanded the captain.
"Three points off the lee bow, sir."
"Raise up your wheel. Steady!" "Steady, sir."
"Mast-head ahoy! Do you see that whale now?"
"Ay ay, sir! A shoal of Sperm Whales! There she blows! There she breaches!"
"Sing out! sing out every time!"
"Ay Ay, sir! There she blows! there--there--THAR she blows--bowes--bo-o-os!"
"How far off?"
"Two miles and a half."
"Thunder and lightning! so near! Call all hands."

John Ross Browne was an Irish-American traveler and writer. Etchings of a whaling cruise: with notes of a sojourn on the island of Zanzibar, to which is appended a brief history of the whale fishery, its past and present condition (1950) was only the second of his many travel works.

"The Whale-ship Globe, on board of which vessel occurred the horrid transactions we are about to relate, belonged to the island of Nantucket." --"NARRATIVE OF THE GLOBE," BY LAY AND HUSSEY SURVIVORS. A.D. 1828. The Globe was a whaleship whose crew mutinied in 1824. William Lay and Cyrus M. Hussey were the only survivors of the nine crew abandoned on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Being once pursued by a whale which he had wounded, he parried the assault for some time with a lance; but the furious monster at length rushed on the boat; himself and comrades only being preserved by leaping into the water when they saw the onset was inevitable." --MISSIONARY JOURNAL OF TYERMAN AND BENNETT. George Bennet (note correct spelling) and Daniel Tyerman were missionaries in the early 19th century. Bennet met Thomas Beale (or at least visited his house) in Macau. Their journals were published by the London Missionary Society.

"Nantucket itself," said Mr. Webster, "is a very striking and peculiar portion of the National interest. There is a population of eight or nine thousand persons living here in the sea, adding largely every year to the National wealth by the boldest and most persevering industry." --REPORT OF DANIEL WEBSTER'S SPEECH IN THE U. S. SENATE, ON THE APPLICATION FOR THE ERECTION OF A BREAKWATER AT NANTUCKET. 1828. Daniel Webster was an American politician from New Hampshire and later Massachusetts. He served in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and also as Secretary of State under three Presidents.

"The whale fell directly over him, and probably killed him in a moment." --"THE WHALE AND HIS CAPTORS, OR THE WHALEMAN'S ADVENTURES AND THE WHALE'S BIOGRAPHY, GATHERED ON THE HOMEWARD CRUISE OF THE COMMODORE PREBLE." BY REV. HENRY T. CHEEVER. Cheever was a passenger on the Commodore Preble whaleship in the early 1840s and published The Whale and His Captors in 1849 or 1850. It is considered a major influence on Moby-Dick.

"If you make the least damn bit of noise," replied Samuel, "I will send you to hell." --LIFE OF SAMUEL COMSTOCK (THE MUTINEER), BY HIS BROTHER, WILLIAM COMSTOCK. ANOTHER VERSION OF THE WHALE-SHIP GLOBE NARRATIVE. Samuel Comstock led a mutiny on Globe on 26 January 1824, about a thousand miles south of the Hawaiian Islands. A couple of weeks later, the mutineers landed on Mili Atoll, where Comstock apparently hoped to become king, but was instead killed by several mutineers who became suspicious of him. Some of the mutineers seized the ship and sailed to Valparaiso; most of the rest were killed by the islanders.

"The voyages of the Dutch and English to the Northern Ocean, in order, if possible, to discover a passage through it to India, though they failed of their main object, laid-open the haunts of the whale." --MCCULLOCH'S COMMERCIAL DICTIONARY. This is more accurately, J. R. McCullough's 1841 Dictionary, practical, theoretical and historical, of commerce and commercial navigation, published by Thomas Wardle of Philadelphia.

"These things are reciprocal; the ball rebounds, only to bound forward again; for now in laying open the haunts of the whale, the whalemen seem to have indirectly hit upon new clews to that same mystic North-West Passage." --FROM "SOMETHING" UNPUBLISHED. Not surprisingly, I have no information on this.

"It is impossible to meet a whale-ship on the ocean without being struck by her near appearance. The vessel under short sail, with look-outs at the mast-heads, eagerly scanning the wide expanse around them, has a totally different air from those engaged in regular voyage." --CURRENTS AND WHALING. U.S. EX. EX. This is the 1845 book by Charles Wilkes, written after he led the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838 to 1842 (hence the "U.S. EX. EX.").

"Pedestrians in the vicinity of London and elsewhere may recollect having seen large curved bones set upright in the earth, either to form arches over gateways, or entrances to alcoves, and they may perhaps have been told that these were the ribs of whales." --TALES OF A WHALE VOYAGER TO THE ARCTIC OCEAN. This was written by Robert Pierce Gillies and published in 1826.

"It was not till the boats returned from the pursuit of these whales, that the whites saw their ship in bloody possession of the savages enrolled among the crew." --NEWSPAPER ACCOUNT OF THE TAKING AND RETAKING OF THE WHALE-SHIP HOBOMACK. Wilson Lumpkin Heflin, in Herman Melville's Whaling Years, says that a search of the contemporary newspapers produces no report of a massacre on Hobomack, and believes Melville misremembered reports of a massacre on a different ship, possibly Sharon or Awashonks.

"It is generally well known that out of the crews of Whaling vessels (American) few ever return in the ships on board of which they departed." --CRUISE IN A WHALE BOAT. The full title is A cruise in a whale boat, by a party of fugitives; or Reminiscences and adventures during a year in the Pacific Ocean, and the interior of South America. It is by James Allen Rhodes and was published in 1848.

"Suddenly a mighty mass emerged from the water, and shot up perpendicularly into the air. It was the while." --MIRIAM COFFIN OR THE WHALE FISHERMAN. This was a novel by Joseph C. Hart first published in 1834.

"The Whale is harpooned to be sure; but bethink you, how you would manage a powerful unbroken colt, with the mere appliance of a rope tied to the root of his tail." --A CHAPTER ON WHALING IN RIBS AND TRUCKS. The book is Ribs and Trucks from Davy's Locker; Being magazine matter broke loose, and fragments of sundry things in-edited; it contains a section titled "A Chapter on Whaling". Ribs and Trucks was written by "W.A.G." (a pseudonym for Horatio Hastings Weld) and first published 1842.

"On one occasion I saw two of these monsters (whales) probably male and female, slowly swimming, one after the other, within less than a stone's throw of the shore" (Terra Del Fuego), "over which the beech tree extended its branches." --DARWIN'S VOYAGE OF A NATURALIST. This book is now better known as The Oyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin, published in 1839 and covering a period between 1831 and 1836.

"'Stern all!' exclaimed the mate, as upon turning his head, he saw the distended jaws of a large Sperm Whale close to the head of the boat, threatening it with instant destruction;--'Stern all, for your lives!'" --WHARTON THE WHALE KILLER. The full title is Wharton the Whale-killer: Or, the Pride of the Pacific; A Tale of the Ocean; it is a novel and was written by Harry Halyard in 1848.

"So be cheery, my lads, let your hearts never fail, While the bold harpooneer is striking the whale!" --NANTUCKET SONG. The song appears to be titled "Bold Harpooner".

"Oh, the rare old Whale, mid storm and gale
In his ocean home will be
A giant in might, where might is right,
And King of the boundless sea."

The song is "The Whale", with words by Joseph Edwards Carpenter and music by N. J. Sporle.

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Evelyn C. Leeper