The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Aboard a Whaler

Those who have never taken the trouble or never have had an opportunity of visiting a whale-ship, fitted for a three years' cruize beyond Cape Horn, will be ignorant of what they have lost, until a leisure moment is profitably employed in that way.  There, between the plank and timbers of a ship of four hundred tons, is a little world; a monarchy in miniature, with an Emperor whose power is absolute as that of the Moon's twin brother who reigns in China, and with occupations as various as are to be found in a house of industry.  There is employed at his forge a blacksmith, and here, as deliberately following his vocation, a carpenter, while near at hand is to be seen the sail maker, pursuing the even tenor of his seam, and whiling away the time with a song. The whole deck, from the tafrail to the heel of the bowsprit, presents to the eye of the beholder, the idea and the picture of a community who knows of nothing beyond the bulwarks, and to whom every thing farther off was the same as if it never had existed.  Just forward of the mainmast is seen, deeply embedded in bricks and mortar, a huge boiler, that looks as if the waters of the Pacific itself were to be heated, and the whale and misshapen walrus boiled to a jelly, and started into casks for New England consumption.  Abaft this is the camboose, or "office of the doctor," as the sailors are in the habit of calling the cook, and truly it is a place that will be looked upon, for the three succeeding years, with not a little interest, as the source from whence emanates the supplies of beef and pork, but without any thing peculiar to recommend it to the attention of strangers, who are less interested.
--from "A Whaler," the Washington Daily National Intelligencer, April 30, 1829 (quoted in vol. 1 of Hershel Parker's Herman Melville: A Biography, p. 183 [1996]).

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