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of fact are superior to those of the earlier works, Typee and Omoo; and on its inventive side it is superior, at any rate to ordinary understanding, to the later books, Mardi and Pierre, or the Ambiguities, and others. It will not surprise readers of Moby Dick to think that after it was written its writer passed from them, in a sense. Already in this book one is carried to the comprehensible limits of marvellous imagination. There the mere reader and follower can stay in safety, transfigured with the great gifts that have been added to him, even while not being of the nature that conceived them. But the nature that conceived them has its course still to run. Herman Melville has here endowed human nature with writing that I believe to be absolutely unsurpassed. To read it and absorb it is the crown of one's reading life, but from the laws of mind that made it the reader is still apart and immune. It is the wildest farthest kind of genius. Herman Melville could not have been so great as this if he had not been going on beyond greatness as we know it. Many deep divers may fail to reach a spot marked at a great depth, and when one of them reaches it at last it is because he sinks on beyond it to return no more. In the works that followed this, he is called transcendentalist and metaphysician, writing of 'exotic philosophies, with an echo of gargantuan laughter.'
Replying to Nathaniel Hawthorne's praise of Moby Dick, he wrote in a letter to him: 'Lord, when shall we be done growing? As long as we have anything more to do, we have done nothing. So, now let us add Moby Dick
to our blessing, and step from that. Leviathan is not the biggest fish ;-I have heard of Krakens.' And it was to Hawthorne that he said in another letter, while he was still writing Moby Dick: 'I have come to regard this matter of Fame as the most transparent of all vanities. I read Solomon more and more, and every time see deeper and deeper and unspeakable meanings in him. I did not think of Fame a year ago as I do now. My development has been all within a few years past. I am like one of those seeds taken out of the Egyptian pyramids, which, after being three thousand years a seed, and nothing but a seed, being planted in English soil it developed itself, grew to greenness, and then fell to mould, So I. Until I was twenty-five I had no development at all. From my twenty-fifth year I date my life. Three weeks have scarcely passed at any time between then and now, that I have not unfolded within myself. But I feel that I am now come to the inmost leaf of the bulb, and that shortly the flower must fall to the mould.'
Herman Melville was about thirty-two when he wrote Moby Dick. He was born in New York in 1819, of mixed Dutch and English stock. When he was eighteen he went to sea as a cabinboy on a vessel trading to Liverpool. Returning to America, he became an usher in a school, but he soon took to the sea again on a whaling-vessel. Later, on a man-of-war, he knew yet another life at sea, and the book called White Jacket was founded on that experience. Leaving the sea, he married and lived on shore in New York and near Pittsville until his death
in 1891. He is the master of all other sea-writers, one of whom, Mr. Masefield, has said that Moby Dick speaks the whole secret of the sea. Marlowe and Sir Thomas Browne and Borrow have been named for comparison with him; and among those to write in his praise were Hawthorne, his friend and neighbour, and Stevenson. Barrie confessedly owes Captain Hook to him. His fame may still be restricted, but it is intense, for to know him is to be partly made of him for ever. Among his other books the reader is chiefly recommended to read White Jacket.
The nature of Moby Dick may perhaps not be seen in its first few chapters.
LX. THE LINE
LXI. STUBB KILLS A WHALE
LXII. THE Dart
LXIII. THE CROTCH
LXIV. STUBB'S SUPPER
LXV. THE Whale AS A DISH
THE SHARK MASSACRE