This is Moby Dick Chapter 24: The Advocate (summary).
Vocabulary Words found in this chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 24: The Advocate (Vocabulary Words)
Previous Chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 23: The Lee Shore (summary)
Ishmael wrote this chapter because many people think of the whaling business as disreputable. Furthermore, many don’t consider this kind of work as one of the liberal professions.1Liberal professions include lawyers, notaries, engineers, architects, doctors, dentists and accountants, amongst others. So, they all require special training in the arts or sciences, and their activities are usually closely regulated by national governments or professional bodies.
Undoubtedly, the major reason why most people think of whaling as dishonorable, is that it’s kind of a butchering business. However, even if that’s true, how about the numerous soldiers who spend their lives getting their hands dirty with blood at war? Even though they also “butcher,” they’re still delightfully honored.
Although many of these whalers are disrespected, think of those candles lit before shrines for their glory. Isn’t that worth taking to a display of honor? Now Ishmael states some amazing facts that whaling is no ordinary business. Here it is.
First, the Dutch in De Witt‘s time had admirals on whaling fleets. Second, Louis XVI of France equipped and supplied the whaling ships that came from Dunkirk. He also politely invited the town of Nantucket to support it, too. Third, Britain between 1750 and 1788 paid its whalemen for more than one million pounds!
Lastly and above all, America outnumbered all the other bands of whalemen all over the world. Moreover, they have seven hundred vessels with a number of eighteen thousand men on these ships.
Yearly, whaling consumes four million dollars and the ships at the time of sailing expenses to twenty million dollars. And, every year, the harvests imported on harbors total to seven million dollars. No doubt, whaling has great influence.
But this is not the half yet. For many years whale-ships had explored seas and archipelagos that are on the farthest and least known part of the earth, places that are not yet recorded on charts, and places that no one had ever sailed.
And of course, the American and European men-of-war should also give the glory to whale ships, for they have used these on all their wars before. Another fact is that the whalemen helped some countries like Peru, Chile, and Bolivia to gain liberty from the Old Spain and to establish their own democracies.
After a Dutchman has first discovered Australia, all other ships shunned that island because they’ve considered it as barbarous. Nevertheless, whale ships had touched that island, and they helped in its colonization.
For several times, these whale ships have saved the first inhabitants of Australia from starvation. Polynesia confesses the same truth. And if Japan would be hospitable to anyone, they would be for the whale men.
But even with the statement of these facts, one might still say that whaling is still not that attractive, nor that exciting. And that there’s no famous author that wrote anything for whales and whaling.
Actually, Moses (who wrote the account of Job) wrote the first account of the Leviathan. Alfred the Great wrote the first narrative of a whaling-voyage. Also, Edmund Burke spoke about whalemen in the Parliament with high praise. Even so, not all whalemen are like these men who had good blood within their veins.
Ishmael reasons that whalemen have something better than royal blood. The grandmother of Benjamin Franklin, who was Mary Morrell Folger, was one of the old settlers of Nantucket. She was the ancentress of many whalers from Nantucket! Even so, many still say that somehow whaling is not respectable.
Actually, whaling is imperial! Surprisingly, an old English statutory law states that whales are ‘royal fish!’ But one might still say that those are only words and that there is nothing impressive in whales.
Well, Ishmael narrates that on a parade for a triumphant Roman general, they have brought bones of a whale. Astoundingly, these bones were the most attractive on that parade! Yet, some may say that there is no dignity in whaling.
For the last time, Ishmael justifies that the constellation Cetus proves their dignity in whaling. And, for him, a man who has killed three hundred and fifty whales in his lifetime, is more honorable than a great captain who has taken or conquered many towns.
End of Moby Dick Chapter 24: The Advocate (summary).