So that when ten men shall meet together to hear this comedy, in whom perhaps shall happen this difference of dispositions, as it usually falleth out, who will deny but that there is a contention in that thing which is so diversely loca For the act of reading is never perfectly smooth; it is usually carried out texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 tension with the text as well as with other readings. As Rojas could have predicted, the ink from Columbus's pen was hardly dry when Isabella and Ferdinand columbsu their dismay, in Septemberover the report on the voyage he submitted to them upon his return from the first.
Since then, scholars have made careers and reputations out of arguing about what exactly Columbus meant by what he wrote. No aspect of his writings has been texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 controversial than the question of the Discovery itself. Columbs one corner are those who insist that Columbus died believing he had found a new route to Asia and had in fact landed on the Asiatic mainland. But other scholars, using the selfsame texts for evidence, claim with equal vigor that Columbuw knew all along, or very early hookegs, that he had found a new continent.
Only slightly less controversial are such topics as the route Columbus followed, where he made landfall, the authenticity of the texts attributed to him, the nature of the enterprise, and Columbus's views of the Indians. The Columbian texts have something to say about all of these issues, but they say different things to different people and, apparently, in different ways. The essays in this volume approach Columbian writing precisely at its cllumbus stress points; that is, they revisit those aspects of the texts that have caused readers the greatest anxiety or have resulted in ificant disagreements among scholars of the Discovery.
Frequently bought together
Doubtless, my arguments and interpretations will provoke further disagreement and dissent. Typically, the Columbian texts have been under the purview of scholars working in disciplines devoted to determining the nature of the past. They treat the colujbus as evidence, and their readings are based on particular cplumbus about the texts' authenticity, reliability, and accuracy. To date, there is no consensus: the Columbian texts have been deemed both very reliable and largely untrustworthy testimonies on the Discovery.
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All the essays here consider this problem, either implicitly or explicitly. But rather than focus on the relation between the texts and the events they refer to, I approach the texts as texts and emphasize the mediated nature of reading and writing. For just as every text arises in a particular context and a specific set of circumstances, so do textlng of that text.
And although we cannot reconstruct those contexts in all their complexity and specificity nor approach writing and reading as if they were only responses to circumstances, to disregard the contexts within which texts become meaningful is to ignore an important aspect of how tfxting and reading help make history. The of an interpretation that treats the mediated character of a text's mode of existence as a central hoomers of the analysis can hopkers unsettling to those who feel most comfortable with the positivist assumption that the past can be essentially reconstituted in the present through the study of documentary sources.
Yet if mediation is not taken intoone runs the risk of producing a flat, static picture of historical writing. In putting these differences between two critical perspectives on Columbian writing in such stark terms, I am overstating the problem somewhat in order to draw a clear distinction between two ways of reading that texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 hookegs purpose and emphasis. One can read to understand the past or to understand how stories about the past are told.
Both these manners of reading require an awareness of the nuances and ambiguities of language, of the plural condition of meaning, of the importance of exegesis and interpretation in understanding the hookes word. But a historical reading seeks ultimately to recreate what really happened, through an archaeology of the word. Instead, the essays in this volume seek to understand texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 ways in which writing about the past makes it meaningful.
They focus, in other words, on the rhetorical rather than the referential qualities of writing. The readers to whom a text is explicitly or implicitly addressed, the circumstances surrounding the act of writing, the author's intentions, and the reader's expectations are only a few of the kinds of mediations that affect how texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 is selected and conveyed and, of course, the meaningfulness or usefulness of that information to those who receive it. Such rhetorical inflections are most evident in the case of so-called creative writing.
But in fact every text, even the most ostensibly objective of legal documents, can be shown to respond inventively to its circumstances, if only in the determinations the writer makes regarding exactly what information would be relevant to readers and most appropriate to the situation, and the form in which that information should therefore be presented. The creative dimension of historical writing and its relevance to the study of the past has been a recent focus of studies exploring the relation between historiography and texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 criticism, history and the language arts.
Its object of study, however, is the text. It is, therefore, literary in the larger and today archaic sense conveyed by the Latin litterarius —of reading and writing. It does not distinguish between "literary" and "historical" texts. Indeed, as I will argue, in the analysis of Columbian writing the notion of disciplinary boundaries is highly questionable, if not obsolete. In this regard these essays pose an alternative to the two traditions in the study of Columbian writing, history and literary criticism, by raising the types of questions that cannot be explored with a single methodology alone.
Another important stress point in the interpretation of the Columbian texts concerns their transmission to later readers. The part reading plays in perpetuating writing is perhaps too obvious for comment. A text that is not read at least once stands little chance of survival. But the role of reading in transforming writing is generally not recognized as a ificant problem in the study of texts.
As Rojas had already pointed out in the fifteenth century, the relations between readers and texts are usually more complicated than simple, more combative than congenial. The three stages he identified in the life of the text as an object of reading suggest that it is an invasive activity.
Ready to private butt
Within a few months of Columbus's return, the letter the only Columbian text to be published in his lifetime appeared in Spanish, Italian, Latin, and in Italian verse. None of these versions are identical. The versions differ from each other in other small ways, in part because all but the Spanish text are translations, and they differ quite ificantly from the text that was probably their common matrix, the "Carta a los Reyes" of 4 Marchalso announcing the Discovery.
As it turned out, the derivative February letter not only modified but actually took the place of—or, more precisely, masqueraded as—the original announcement of the Discovery for almost five hundred years. Samuel Eliot Morison's assessment of the letter's authority and privilege is representative of the esteem in which most scholars have held it: "This letter is the first and rarest of all printed americana. It tells not only what the Admiral himself thought, but the most important things he wished the sovereigns to know.
The 4 March letter, lost or suppressed for half a millennium, was known to have existed at all only because it was mentioned in a postscript to the 15 February version. Conversely, the Columbian texts that remain lost today, including the diarios of the second, third, and fourth s, are, in part, unavailable because Las Casas did not transcribe them. Although neglect, scribal error, official suppression, and foul play may also have contributed to the deformation and attrition that Columbus's words have suffered since their original inscription, nothing has had as comprehensive and profound an effect on them as Las Casas's hand.
The scope and character of Las Casas's editorial interventions in the reconstitution of his source, the since lost diario of the first voyage, is the subject of the essay " 'All these are the Admiral's exact words' "—a phrase that appears frequently in Las Casas's edition of Columbus's journal. From this perspective, Reading Columbus is an ironic title, texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 not only is it impossible to determine with absolute certainty which portions of these texts are Columbus's "very words," but the very ature "Columbus" must be seen as an aggregate, a corporate author as it were.
Discourse appears frequently and prominently in the s that follow. The term has a long history: In Latin discurrere means "to run back and forth," a purely physical action. In its evolution through medieval Latin and into the modern European languages, however, the word retained of the original sense only the connotation of movement to and fro, and it came to deate intellectual activity, specifically, the process of reasoning or argumentation. More recent usage has branched into seemingly antithetical directions, with the twin senses of formal presentation texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 discussion in Spanish discurso means "speech" and dialogue or exchange.
Upon further consideration, however, the one meaning implies the other. A lecture or speech may be performed as a monologue, but it is inherently dialogical insofar as it is a reaction to the current state of knowledge or opinion on the topic. Moreover, every lecture or speech addresses someone even if only implicitly and, perhaps most importantly, seeks to elicit a response even if only to squelch dissent.
Knowledge is not created by an individual genius working alone; it is the product of intellectual give and take, of the movement of ideas back and forth, of conversations comprising many voices. To speak of the "discourse of the Discovery" then, suggests an exchange. Using the analogy of conversation or dialogue helps to underscore that the Discovery was a dynamic process constituted not by persons acting and speaking autonomously, but in formal official exchanges in the public sphere, situations that were inherently contractual—that is, dialogical in a figurative sense.
These essays consider the Discovery, then, not as a single and unique event, but as a process defining how Europeans were to relate to the newly found peoples and the territories they inhabited. In these terms, the Discovery and its discourse continued for decades, even centuries, after Columbus, as Las Casas's treatment of the Columbian texts illustrates.
The indigenous peoples of the New World suffered the Discovery, resisted or collaborated in various ways, but they were not participants in defining the terms of the Europeans' discourse. The most ificant contribution of the indigenous peoples—their resistance—constituted a rejection of the Europeans' definition of the Discovery and its implementation—but they were not allowed a voice in the discourse. Cahonaboa was eventually duped, captured, and sent to Spain in shackles.
Yet neither indigenous collaboration nor resistance have a say in this encounter. When the indigenous peoples speak through the Columbian texts at all, it is only because others do the talking for them. One final clarification. Each of the essays 32 this book probes the tensions and contradictions in the discourse of the Discovery from columbud different perspective. But each new vantage point, by definition, also limits the angle of vision, by restricting the types of questions raised and, thereby, the character of the responses.
Thus while each essay affirms a position with respect to the object of study and the issues raised, the volume as a whole does not resolve the complexities, incongruities, and tensions that inhabit the Teting texts into a totalizing theory that would be compelling in its homogeneity. Such a perspectivistic strategy tedting heterogeneous not out of a relativistic reluctance to "take a stand" but, rather, out of a conviction that a critical stance is itself, like the texts it addresses, the contingent product of interactions at a particular time and place.
Not only did his letter make the fact of the historical event known to others, but the very future of the enterprise depended on how it was represented to those who were in the position to decide its fate. Like writing, reading has consequences, hookere our thoughts today about Columbus's first voyage are at least as much the result of how the Columbian texts were read as of the manner in columbhs they were written.
This essay considers the earliest readings of Columbian writing through a comparative lens, focusing on two versions of the announcement of the Texting local hookers 23 columbus 23.
Both were presumably written by Columbus, although, as I note below, that is a matter of some debate. The dispute over the actual authorship of these versions aside, however, the ificant variations between ,ocal two texts suggest that one constitutes a reading of the other, an emendation of the original scriptural act that created a new and different image of the Discovery. Of course, not every act of reading literally constitutes a new text. But reading is always, if only in a metaphorical sense, a rewriting.
As readers, we privilege certain aspects of the text, hookkers others, misunderstand some, and perhaps on occasion even understand only too well the story before us.
Readings are, in any case, always in creative tension with the text. In underscoring the generative quality of the act of reading, my purpose is to explore the role reading has played in the writing of the history of the Discovery. As the Diario of the first tells it, ,ocal 14 Hokoersin the midst of a life-threatening storm, Columbus wrote to Ferdinand and Isabella, announcing the Texting local hookers 23 columbus 23.
On 4 March he wrote to the king of Portugal and to the Spanish sovereigns again. According to the DiarioColumbus had managed to find his way to tranquil waters in the colujbus of the Tagus River on that day, and both letters were apparently posted overland. Two other letters, both dated 15 Februaryalso announcing the Discovery, have been ascribed to Columbus. Both these men were officials of the Crown of Aragon who textong been instrumental in facilitating the Columbian enterprise.
Neither of these hookees, however, are mentioned in the Diarioand the place of composition stated in the letters contradicts Columbus's itinerary. Within a few months of Columbus's return, these had been published in various editions and in three different languages throughout Europe. The letter of 14 February apparently was lost at sea. The only remaining traces of it are the references in the Diario and texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 subsequent histories derived from that of the first.
As official documents of locap import, they undoubtedly would have been copied and the originals handled with utmost care. They were wholly lost to us untilwhen Antonio Rumeu de Armas published an undated and uned copy of the 4 March letter, based on a manuscript of uncertain origin, probably from the mid-sixteenth century. Some of Ramos's assumptions about the lost letter to Ferdinand and Isabella of 4 March have proved inaccurate in light of Rumeu's edition.
Yet the thrust of Ramos's argument that the version of 15 February was composed columbuss propaganda, appears to be strengthened by the 4 March text.
Though similar, the February and March versions offer fundamentally distinct representations of the Discovery. If one accepts the hypothesis that Columbus himself authored the originals of each of these announcements of the Discovery, then all three letters can be considered distillations of the diario of the first voyage; that is, products of Columbus reading himself. Both Ramos and Rumeu have tested a similar hypothesis and found that the correlation of specific passages is often very close, although the letters also present ificant divergences from the Diario.
The fundamental problem with this approach, however, is that all of the surviving versions of the itinerary of the first voyage are secondhand. Ferdinand Columbus and Las Casas both quoted or paraphrased extensively from the diario of the in their s of that voyage, but their texts can only be considered reconstitutions of whatever Columbus may have written. First, no holographs of these texts are available. The copy of the letter of 4 March to Ferdinand and Isabella published by Rumeu is some years removed from the original.
Such lacunae make it essentially impossible to draw any solid conclusions about the sources of the variations or even the ificance of the similarities. With Rumeu's publication of the 4 March letter, however, two different versions of the announcement of the Discovery are now available. Indisputably, one of them is a reading of the other.
And while it may be impossible columus verify with absolute certainty which gexting these texts was the original and which the revision, or to determine who did the rewriting, a comparison of the two versions provides an opportunity to consider the consequences that the earliest readings of Columbian writing have had on our understanding of the Discovery. Some revisions seem to have been undertaken for the purpose of resolving ambiguities or contradictions in the 4 March text.
Other changes, however, cannot be attributed to the reviser's desire for economy or clarity, simply to facilitate reading. By far the more interesting differences are those which suggest that the royal text was systematically censored on its way to textnig the public version of the announcement. It is in this redactive process, whose traces emerge between the lines of text when the two versions are compared, that a particular way of reading the Discovery unfolds.
The letter to the sovereigns tells of leaving behind the flagship to serve in building a fortification for the Spaniards who were to remain at La Navidad. Despite Columbus's reticence, the implications of Spanish misconduct must have been clear. Ships are in fact a prominent topic in the letter of 4 Columbue. Columbus proffers elaborate observations on the advantages of using smaller vessels for exploration and apologetically explains that he had taken larger ones against his better judgment, bowing to pressure from a fearful crew that was reluctant to trust the smaller ships in oceanic.
Whatever the reason, these passages were purged from the public announcement. Nor does it mention another source of friction—the generalized resistance to the project Columbus encountered at court prior to his departure. The 4 March letter, on the other hand, lingers on the ridicule and ill treatment Columbus had to endure from his detractors, seeming to relish the implicit I told you so.
One sailor got more than two and a half castellanos [in gold] for the ends of leather latchets. There are ten thousand like occurrences to tell. In each text the same columbis of the sailor who managed to negotiate a nice chunk of gold for a leather latchet is presented as a sort of paradigm of locql and future transactions. Simple differences in the organization of the two texts also produce important semantic variations. And today, this very day, they are of the same mind, nor have they strayed from it, despite all the contact they [the Spaniards at La Navidad] may have had with them.
And then upon arriving at whatever settlement, the men, women, and children go from house to house calling out,"Come, come and see the people from heaven! See the people from the sky! But, more importantly, the passage has also been relocated and recontextualized. In the columbuss of 4 March these observations appeared immediately preceding the passage describing the opportunities for exploitative barter, a juxtaposition that highlighted the patently unheavenly conduct of the Christians in response to their hosts' generous and reverent reception.
In repositioning and recontextualizing the scene of arrival, the folumbus in effect redefines the terms of exchange: Locql crass exploitation of the natives related in the royal missive is refashioned into a reciprocal interaction that bespeaks the noble Christian character of the Spaniards. Three of these paragraphs contain direct petitions to the Crown for favors and the fulfillment of the honors and rewards promised Columbus in the "Capitulaciones de Santa Fe" 17 Holkers Specifically, these include a request for the concession of favors for services rendered, together with a letter of petition to the Pope asking for a cardinalate for Columbus's legitimate son Diego, and a request for the appointment of Pedro de Villacorta, a Columbus favorite, to the post of paymaster of the Indies.
Nonetheless, the petitions in the royal letter ificantly color the reader's conceptualization of the Discovery in underscoring the contractual character of the enterprise. As the petitions remind us, Columbus's fate loval in the Crown's perception of the success or failure of his endeavor. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted nookers by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs—commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there. Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. What do you see? Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-he; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 seaward peep.
But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 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! Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses will not suffice. They must get just as nigh the water as they possibly can without falling in. And there they stand—miles of them—leagues.
Inlanders all, they come from lanes 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 you please, 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—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor.
Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever. But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco. What is the chief element he employs? There stand his trees, each with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix were within; and here sleeps his meadow, and there sleep his cattle; and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy smoke. Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way, reaching to overlapping spurs of mountains bathed in their hill-side blue.
Go visit the Prairies in June, when for scores on scores of miles you wade knee-deep among Tiger-lilies—what is the one charm wanting? Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand miles to see it? Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, hopkers invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach?
Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove?
Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story etxting Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all. Now, when I say that I am in the habit of going to sea whenever I begin to grow hazy about the eyes, and begin to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean ohokers have it inferred that I ever go locxl sea as a passenger.
For to go as a passenger you must needs have a purse, coolumbus a purse is but a rag unless you have something in it. I abandon the glory and distinction of such offices to those who like them.
For my part, I abominate all honorable respectable toils, trials, and tribulations of every kind whatsoever. It is quite as much as I can do to take care of myself, without taking colymbus of ships, barques, brigs, schooners, and what not. And as for going as textiing I confess there is considerable glory in that, a cook being a sort of officer on ship-board—yet, somehow, I never fancied broiling fowls;—though once broiled, judiciously hopkers, and judgmatically salted and peppered, there is no one who will speak more respectfully, not to say reverentially, texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 a broiled fowl than I will.
It is out of the idolatrous dotings of the old Egyptians upon broiled ibis and roasted river horse, that you see the mummies of those creatures in their huge bake-houses the pyramids. No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft there to the royal mast-head.
True, they rather order me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of thing is texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 enough. And more than all, if just to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand in hooksrs of you.
The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires textjng strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it. But hookres this wears off in time. What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity tfxting to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance?
Tell me that. Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid.
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The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us. Locla being paid,—what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no can a monied man enter heaven. Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 exercise and pure air of the fore-castle deck.
For as txting this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern that is, if you never texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 the Pythagorean maximso for the most part the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at columbjs hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it.
Colkmbus wherefore it was that folumbus having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some unable way—he can better answer than any one else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago.
It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great whale himself. Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity. Then the wild and distant seas where he rolled his island bulk; the undeliverable, nameless perils of the whale; these, with all the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonian sights and sounds, helped to sway hokkers to my wish.
With other men, perhaps, such things would not have been inducements; but as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. hookerw
I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could still be social with it—would they let me—since it is but well to be on friendly terms with all the inmates of the place one lodges in. By reason of these things, then, the whaling voyage was welcome; the great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to my purpose, two and two there floated into my inmost soul, endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in the air.
The Carpet-Bag. I stuffed a shirt or two into my old carpet-bag, tucked it under my arm, and started for Cape Horn and the Pacific. Quitting the good city of old Manhatto, I duly arrived in New Bedford. It was a Saturday night in December. Much was I disappointed upon learning that the little packet for Nantucket had already sailed, and that no way of reaching that place would offer, till the following Monday.
As most young candidates for the pains and penalties of whaling stop at this same New Bedford, thence to embark on their voyage, it may as hoookers be related that I, for one, had no idea of so doing. Texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 my mind was made up to sail in no other than a Nantucket craft, because there was a fine, boisterous something about everything connected with that famous old island, which amazingly pleased me.
Besides though New Bedford has of late been gradually monopolising the business of whaling, and though in this matter poor old Nantucket is now much behind her, yet Nantucket was her great original—the Tyre of this Carthage;—the place where the first dead American whale was stranded. Where else but from Nantucket did those aboriginal whalemen, the Red-Men, first sally out in canoes to give chase to the Leviathan?
And where but from Nantucket, too, did that first adventurous little sloop put forth, partly laden with imported cobblestones—so locak the story—to throw at the whales, in order to discover when they were nigh enough to risk a harpoon from the bowsprit? Now having a night, a day, and still another night following before me in New Textimg, ere I could embark for my destined port, it became a matter of concernment where I was to eat and sleep meanwhile.
It was a very dubious-looking, nay, a very dark and dismal night, bitingly cold and cheerless. I knew no one in the place. Too expensive and jolly, again texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 I, pausing one moment to watch the broad glare in the street, and hear the columbhs of the tinkling glasses within. So on I went. I now by instinct followed the streets that took me waterward, for there, doubtless, were the cheapest, if not the cheeriest inns. Such dreary streets!
At this hour of the night, of the last day of the week, that quarter of the town proved all but deserted. Colimbus presently I came to a smoky light proceeding from a low, wide building, the door of which stood invitingly open.
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It had a careless look, as if it were meant for the uses of the public; so, entering, the first thing I did was to stumble over an ash-box in the porch. It seemed the great Black Parliament sitting in Tophet. A hundred black faces turned round in their rows to peer; and beyond, a black Angel of Doom was beating a book in a pulpit.
But it is a common name in Nantucket, they say, and I suppose this Peter here is an emigrant from there. As the light looked so dim, and the place, for the time, looked quiet enough, and the dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might have been carted here from the ruins of some burnt district, and as the swinging had a poverty-stricken sort of creak to it, I thought that here was the very spot for cheap lodgings, and the best of pea coffee.
It was a queer sort of place—a gable-ended old house, one side palsied as it were, and leaning over sadly. Euroclydon, nevertheless, is a mighty pleasant zephyr to any one in-doors, with his feet on the hob quietly toasting for bed. Yes, these eyes are windows, and this body of mine is the house. The universe is finished; the copestone is on, and the chips were carted off a million years ago. Poor Lazarus there, chattering his teeth against the curbstone for his pillow, and shaking off his tatters with his shiverings, he might plug up both ears with rags, and put a corn-cob into his mouth, and yet that would not keep out the tempestuous Euroclydon.
What a fine frosty night; how Orion glitters; what northern lights! Let them talk of their oriental summer climes of everlasting conservatories; give me the privilege of making my own summer with my own coals. But what thinks Lazarus? Can he warm his blue hands by holding them up to the grand northern lights? Would not Lazarus rather be in Sumatra than here?
Would he not far rather lay him down lengthwise along the line of the equator; yea, ye gods! Now, that Lazarus should lie stranded there on the curbstone before the door of Dives, this is more wonderful than that an iceberg should be moored to one of the Moluccas. Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 an ice palace made of frozen sighs, and being a president of a temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of orphans. But no more of this blubbering now, we are going a-whaling, and there is plenty of that yet to come.
The Spouter-Inn. Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found yourself in a wide, low, straggling entry with old-fashioned wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of some condemned old craft. On one side hung a very large oilpainting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way defaced, that in the unequal crosslights by which you viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors, that you could any way arrive at an understanding of its purpose.
Such unable masses of shades and shadows, that at first you almost thought some ambitious young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint of much and earnest contemplation, and oft repeated ponderings, and especially by throwing open the little window towards the back of the entry, you at last come to the conclusion that such an idea, however wild, might not be altogether unwarranted.
But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast. A boggy, soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous man distracted. Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting meant.
Ever and anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would dart you through. That once found out, and all the rest were plain. But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance to a gigantic fish? The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great hurricane; the half-foundered ship weltering there with its three dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated whale, purposing to spring clean over the craft, is in the enormous act of impaling himself upon the three mast-he.
The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws; others were tufted with knots of human hair; and one was sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping round like the segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed mower. You shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what monstrous cannibal and savage could texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 have gone a death-harvesting with such a hacking, horrifying implement.
Mixed with these were rusty old whaling lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. Some were storied weapons. With this once long lance, now wildly elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain kill fifteen whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that harpoon—so like a corkscrew now—was flung in Javan seas, and run away with by a whale, years afterwards slain off the Cape of Blanco.
The original iron entered nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in the body of a man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found imbedded in the hump. Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low-arched way—cut through what in old times must have been a great central chimney with fireplaces all round—you enter the public room. Within are shabby shelves, ranged round with old decanters, bottles, flasks; and in those jaws of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah by which name indeed they called himbustles a little withered old man, who, for their money, dearly sells the sailors deliriums and death.
Abominable are the tumblers into which he pours his poison. Though true cylinders without—within, the villanous green goggling glasses deceitfully tapered downwards to a cheating bottom. Fill to this mark, and your charge is but a penny; to this a penny more; and so on to the full glass—the Cape Horn measure, which you texting local hookers 23 columbus 23 gulp down for a shilling.