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Moby Dick: Or, The Whale: Complete (Paperback)
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago-never mind how long precisely-having little or no money inmy purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and seethe watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating thecirculation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzlyNovember in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, andbringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upperhand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping intothe street, and methodically knocking people's hats off-then, I account it high time to get to sea assoon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throwshimself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they butknew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelingstowards the ocean with me.There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coralreefs-commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Itsextreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to CoentiesSlip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see?-Posted like silent sentinels allaround the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Someleaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of shipsfrom China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But theseare all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster-tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?But look here come more crowds, pacing straight for the water, and seemingly bound for a dive.Strange Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady leeof yonder warehouses will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly canwithout falling in. And there they stand-miles of them-leagues. Inlanders all, they come fromlanes and alleys, streets and avenues-north, east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those ships attract them thither?Once more. Say you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path youplease, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream.There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries-standthat man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be inall that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if yourcaravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditationand water are wedded for ev.