Basic Standard Post Vol. 3

A strange, apostolic whim having seized him, he had left Neskyeuna for Nantucket where with that cunning peculiar to craziness, he assumed a steady common-sense exterior and offered himself as a green-hand candidate for the Jeroboam’s whaling voyage.

Observing more and more the indecorous figure that Queequeg made, staving about with little else but his hat and boots on I begged him as well as I could, to accelerate his toilet somewhat, and particularly to get into his pantaloons as soon as possible. He complied, and then proceeded to wash himself. At that time in the morning any Christian would have washed his face but Queequeg to my amazement, contented himself with restricting his ablutions to his chest, arms, and hands. He then donned his waistcoat, and taking up a piece of hard soap on the wash-stand center table.

Editor’s Picks

  1. These Reflections – just here are occasioned by the circumstance that after we were all seated at the table, and I was preparing to hear some good stories about whaling; to my no small surprise, nearly every man maintained a profound silence. And not only that, but they looked embarrassed.
  2. The Sea-dogs – many of whom without the slightest bashfulness had boarded great whales on the high seas entire strangers to them and duelled them dead without winking; and yet, here they sat at a social breakfast table all of the same calling, all of kindred tastes looking round as sheepishly at each other as though they had never been out of sight of some sheepfold among the Green Mountains
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    On this head, there are some remarkable documents that may be consulted and a still greater number who, chancing only to hear of him distantly and vaguely, without the specific details of any certain calamity, and without superstitious accompaniments, were sufficiently hardy not to flee from the battle if offered.

  3. The White Whale – One of the wild suggestions referred to, as at last coming to be linked with the White Whale in the minds of the superstitiously inclined, was the unearthly conceit that Moby Dick was ubiquitous that he had actually been encountered in opposite latitudes at one and the same instant of time. Nevertheless, some there were, who even in the face of these things were ready to give chase to Moby Dick.
And as if the now tested reality of his might had in former legendary times thrown its shadow before it; we find some book naturalists&mdash Olassen and Povelson declaring the Sperm Whale not only to be a consternation to every other creature in the sea, but also to be so incredibly ferocious as continually to be athirst for human blood. Nor even down to so late a time as Cuvier’s, were these or almost similar impressions effaced. For in his Natural History, the Baron himself affirms that at sight of the Sperm Whale, all fish (sharks included) are “struck with the most lively terrors, and often in the precipitancy of their flight dash themselves against the rocks with such violence as to cause instantaneous death.

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