For ever since those inventive but
unscrupulous times when on the marble panellings of temples, the pedestals of statues, and on shields, medallions, cups, and coins, the dolphin was drawn in scales of chain-armor like Saladin's, and a helmeted head like St. George's; ever since then has something of the same sort of license prevailed, not only in most popular pictures of the whale, but in many scientific presentations of him.
still in existence; not extinct or destroyed or lost
Now, by all odds, the most ancient
extant portrait anyways purporting to be the whale's, is to be found in the famous cavern-pagoda of Elephanta, in India.
so extremely old as seeming to belong to an earlier period
But go to the old Galleries, and look now at a great Christian painter's portrait of this fish; for he succeeds no better than the
the property of excessive fatness
corpulence of that Hogarthian monster undulates on the surface, scarcely drawing one inch of water.
representation by drawing, painting, etc.
But quitting all these unprofessional attempts, let us glance at those pictures of leviathan purporting to be sober, scientific
delineations, by those who know.
of momentous or ominous significance
In another plate, the
prodigious blunder is made of representing the whale with perpendicular flukes.
I doubt not the captain had this
veracious picture taken for the benefit of his marines.
many and varied; having many features or forms
manifold mistakes in depicting the whale are not so very surprising after all.
impossible to come to understand
The living whale, in his full majesty and significance, is only to be seen at sea in
unfathomable waters; and afloat the vast bulk of him is out of sight, like a launched line-of-battle ship; and out of that element it is a thing eternally impossible for mortal man to hoist him bodily into the air, so as to preserve all his mighty swells and undulations.
The living whale, in his full majesty and significance, is only to be seen at sea in unfathomable waters; and afloat the vast bulk of him is out of sight, like a launched line-of-battle ship; and out of that element it is a thing eternally impossible for mortal man to hoist him bodily into the air, so as to preserve all his mighty swells and
having a useful function
Though Jeremy Bentham's skeleton, which hangs for candelabra in the library of one of his executors, correctly conveys the idea of a burly-browed
utilitarian old gentleman, with all Jeremy's other leading personal characteristics; yet nothing of this kind could be inferred from any leviathan's articulated bones.
give expression to
This peculiarity is strikingly
evinced in the head, as in some part of this book will be incidentally shown.
giving careful attention to detail
Wherefore, it seems to me you had best not be too
fastidious in your curiosity touching this Leviathan.
being essentially equal to something
For the most part, the English and American whale draughtsmen seem entirely content with presenting the mechanical outline of things, such as the vacant profile of the whale; which, so far as picturesqueness of effect is concerned, is about
tantamount to sketching the profile of a pyramid.
the act of devising something
Throughout the Pacific, and also in Nantucket, and New Bedford, and Sag Harbor, you will come across lively sketches of whales and whaling-scenes, graven by the fishermen themselves on Sperm Whale-teeth, or ladies' busks 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.
radiating or as if radiating light
And beneath the
effulgent Antarctic skies I have boarded the Argo-Navis, and joined the chase against the starry Cetus far beyond the utmost stretch of Hydrus and the Flying Fish.
surpassing the ordinary or normal
Preternatural terrors rested upon the Hebrews, when under the feet of Korah and his company the live ground opened and swallowed them up for ever; yet not a modern sun ever sets, but in precisely the same manner the live sea swallows up ships and crews.
of a deep somewhat purplish blue color
Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of
vigorous and animated
For this part of the Indian Ocean through which we then were 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 Plata, or the in-shore ground off Peru.
a person who inhabits a particular place
For this part of the Indian Ocean through which we then were 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 Plata, or the in-shore ground off Peru.
characterized by great force or energy
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 lance (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.
become less in amount or intensity
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.
disposed to venture or take risks
Consider, now, how it must be in the case of four boats all engaging one unusually strong, active, and knowing whale; when owing to these qualities in him, as well as to the thousand concurring accidents of such an
audacious enterprise, eight or ten loose second irons may be simultaneously dangling about him.
make clear and comprehensible
All these particulars are faithfully narrated here, as they will not fail to
elucidate several most important, however intricate passages, in scenes hereafter to be painted.
quick or skillful or adept in action or thought
adroit management the wooden float is made to rise on the other side of the mass, so that now having girdled the whale, the chain is readily made to follow suit; and being slipped along the body, is at last locked fast round the smallest part of the tail, at the point of junction with its broad flukes or lobes.
a state of quiet (but possibly temporary) inaction
If moody Ahab was now all
quiescence, at least so far as could be known on deck, Stubb, his second mate, flushed with conquest, betrayed an unusual but still good-natured excitement.
immune to attack; incapable of being tampered with
How at such an apparently
unassailable surface, they contrive to gouge out such symmetrical mouthfuls, remains a part of the universal problem of all things.
If you have never seen that sight, then suspend your decision about the
propriety of devil-worship, and the expediency of conciliating the devil.
unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating
It is not, perhaps, entirely because the whale is so excessively
unctuous that landsmen seem to regard the eating of him with abhorrence; that appears to result, in some way, from the consideration before mentioned: i.e. that a man should eat a newly murdered thing of the sea, and eat it too by its own light.
hate coupled with disgust
It is not, perhaps, entirely because the whale is so excessively unctuous that landsmen seem to regard the eating of him with
abhorrence; that appears to result, in some way, from the consideration before mentioned: i.e. that a man should eat a newly murdered thing of the sea, and eat it too by its own light.