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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMoby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 76 The Battering-Ram.
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Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 76 The Battering-Ram. Post by :camtex1 Category :Long Stories Author :Herman Melville Date :February 2011 Read :1791

Click below to download : Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 76 The Battering-Ram. (Format : PDF)

Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 76 The Battering-Ram.

Ere quitting, for the nonce, the Sperm Whale's head, I would have
you, as a sensible physiologist, simply--particularly remark its
front aspect, in all its compacted collectedness. I would have you
investigate it now with the sole view of forming to yourself some
unexaggerated, intelligent estimate of whatever battering-ram power
may be lodged there. Here is a vital point; for you must either
satisfactorily settle this matter with yourself, or for ever remain
an infidel as to one of the most appalling, but not the less true
events, perhaps anywhere to be found in all recorded history.

You observe that in the ordinary swimming position of the Sperm
Whale, the front of his head presents an almost wholly vertical plane
to the water; you observe that the lower part of that front slopes
considerably backwards, so as to furnish more of a retreat for the
long socket which receives the boom-like lower jaw; you observe that
the mouth is entirely under the head, much in the same way, indeed,
as though your own mouth were entirely under your chin. Moreover you
observe that the whale has no external nose; and that what nose he
has--his spout hole--is on the top of his head; you observe that his
eyes and ears are at the sides of his head, nearly one third of his
entire length from the front. Wherefore, you must now have perceived
that the front of the Sperm Whale's head is a dead, blind wall,
without a single organ or tender prominence of any sort whatsoever.
Furthermore, you are now to consider that only in the extreme, lower,
backward sloping part of the front of the head, is there the
slightest vestige of bone; and not till you get near twenty feet from
the forehead do you come to the full cranial development. So that
this whole enormous boneless mass is as one wad. Finally, though, as
will soon be revealed, its contents partly comprise the most delicate
oil; yet, you are now to be apprised of the nature of the substance
which so impregnably invests all that apparent effeminacy. In some
previous place I have described to you how the blubber wraps the body
of the whale, as the rind wraps an orange. Just so with the head;
but with this difference: about the head this envelope, though not so
thick, is of a boneless toughness, inestimable by any man who has not
handled it. The severest pointed harpoon, the sharpest lance darted
by the strongest human arm, impotently rebounds from it. It is as
though the forehead of the Sperm Whale were paved with horses' hoofs.
I do not think that any sensation lurks in it.

Bethink yourself also of another thing. When two large, loaded
Indiamen chance to crowd and crush towards each other in the
docks, what do the sailors do? They do not suspend between them, at
the point of coming contact, any merely hard substance, like iron or
wood. No, they hold there a large, round wad of tow and cork,
enveloped in the thickest and toughest of ox-hide. That bravely and
uninjured takes the jam which would have snapped all their oaken
handspikes and iron crow-bars. By itself this sufficiently
illustrates the obvious fact I drive at. But supplementary to this,
it has hypothetically occurred to me, that as ordinary fish possess
what is called a swimming bladder in them, capable, at will, of
distension or contraction; and as the Sperm Whale, as far as I know,
has no such provision in him; considering, too, the otherwise
inexplicable manner in which he now depresses his head altogether
beneath the surface, and anon swims with it high elevated out of the
water; considering the unobstructed elasticity of its envelope;
considering the unique interior of his head; it has hypothetically
occurred to me, I say, that those mystical lung-celled honeycombs
there may possibly have some hitherto unknown and unsuspected
connexion with the outer air, so as to be susceptible to atmospheric
distension and contraction. If this be so, fancy the
irresistibleness of that might, to which the most impalpable and
destructive of all elements contributes.

Now, mark. Unerringly impelling this dead, impregnable, uninjurable
wall, and this most buoyant thing within; there swims behind it all a
mass of tremendous life, only to be adequately estimated as piled
wood is--by the cord; and all obedient to one volition, as the
smallest insect. So that when I shall hereafter detail to you all
the specialities and concentrations of potency everywhere lurking in
this expansive monster; when I shall show you some of his more
inconsiderable braining feats; I trust you will have renounced all
ignorant incredulity, and be ready to abide by this; that though the
Sperm Whale stove a passage through the Isthmus of Darien, and mixed
the Atlantic with the Pacific, you would not elevate one hair of your
eye-brow. For unless you own the whale, you are but a provincial and
sentimentalist in Truth. But clear Truth is a thing for salamander
giants only to encounter; how small the chances for the provincials
then? What befell the weakling youth lifting the dread goddess's
veil at Lais?

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Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 77 The Great Heidelburgh Tun. Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 77 The Great Heidelburgh Tun.

Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 77 The Great Heidelburgh Tun.
Now comes the Baling of the Case. But to comprehend it aright, youmust know something of the curious internal structure of the thingoperated upon.Regarding the Sperm Whale's head as a solid oblong, you may, on aninclined plane, sideways divide it into two quoins,* whereof thelower is the bony structure, forming the cranium and jaws, and theupper an unctuous mass wholly free from bones; its broad forward endforming the expanded vertical apparent forehead of the whale. At themiddle of the forehead horizontally subdivide this upper quoin, andthen you have two almost equal parts, which before were naturallydivided by an internal

Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 75 The Right Whale's Head--Contrasted View. Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 75 The Right Whale's Head--Contrasted View.

Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 75 The Right Whale's Head--Contrasted View.
Crossing the deck, let us now have a good long look at the RightWhale's head.As in general shape the noble Sperm Whale's head may be compared to aRoman war-chariot (especially in front it is so broadlyrounded); so, at a broad view, the Right Whale's head bears a ratherinelegant resemblance to a gigantic galliot-toed shoe. Two hundredyears ago an old Dutch voyager likened its shape to that of ashoemaker's last. And in this same last or shoe, that old woman ofthe nursery tale, with the swarming brood, might very comfortably belodged, she and all her progeny.But as you come