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Ere the English ship fades from sight, be it set down here,
that she hailed from London, and was named after the late
Samuel Enderby, merchant of that city, the original of the
famous whaling house of Enderby & Sons; a house which in
my poor whaleman's opinion, comes not far behind the united
royal houses of the Tudors and Bourbons, in point of real historical
interest. How long, prior to the year of our Lord 1775,
this great whaling house was in existence, my numerous fish-documents
do not make plain; but in that year (1775) it fitted
out the first English ships that ever regularly hunted the Sperm
Whale; though for some score of years previous (ever since 1726)
our valiant Coffins and Maceys of Nantucket and the Vineyard
had in large fleets pursued that Leviathan, but only in the North
and South Atlantic: not elsewhere. Be it distinctly recorded
here, that the Nantucketers were the first among mankind to
harpoon with civilized steel the great Sperm Whale; and that
for half a century they were the only people of the whole
globe who so harpooned him.

In 1778, a fine ship, the Amelia, fitted out for the express
purpose, and at the sole charge of the vigorous Enderbys,
boldly rounded Cape Horn, and was the first among the nations
to lower a whale-boat of any sort in the great South Sea. The
voyage was a skilful and lucky one; and returning to her berth
with her hold full of the precious sperm, the Amelia's example
was soon followed by other ships, English and American,
and thus the vast Sperm Whale grounds of the Pacific were


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thrown open. But not content with this good deed, the indefatigable
house again bestirred itself: Samuel and all his Sons—
how many, their mother only knows—and under their immediate
auspices, and partly, I think, at their expense, the British
government was induced to send the sloop-of-war Rattler on a
whaling voyage of discovery into the South Sea. Commanded
by a naval Post-Captain, the Rattler made a rattling voyage of
it, and did some service; how much does not appear. But this
is not all. In 1819, the same house fitted out a discovery
whale ship of their own, to go on a tasting cruise to the remote
waters of Japan. That ship—well called the “Syren”—made
a noble experimental cruise; and it was thus that the great
Japanese Whaling Ground first became generally known. The
Syren in this famous voyage was commanded by a Captain
Coffin, a Nantucketer.

All honor to the Enderbies, therefore, whose house, I think,
exists to the present day; though doubtless the original Samuel
must long ago have slipped his cable for the great South Sea
of the other world.

The ship named after him was worthy of the honor, being a
very fast sailer and a noble craft every way. I boarded her once
at midnight somewhere off the Patagonian coast, and drank
good flip down in the forecastle. It was a fine gam we had,
and they were all trumps—every soul on board. A short life
to them, and a jolly death. And that fine gam I had—long,
very long after old Ahab touched her planks with his ivory
heel—it minds me of the noble, solid, Saxon hospitality of that
ship; and may my parson forget me, and the devil remember
me, if I ever lose sight of it. Flip? Did I say we had flip?
Yes, and we flipped it at the rate of ten gallons the hour; and
when the squall came (for it's squally off there by Patagonia),
and all hands—visitors and all—were called to reef topsails, we
were so top-heavy that we had to swing each other aloft in
bowlines; and we ignorantly furled the skirts of our jackets into


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the sails, so that we hung there, reefed fast in the howling gale, a
warning example to all drunken tars. However, the masts did
not go overboard; and by and bye we scrambled down, so
sober, that we had to pass the flip again, though the savage
salt spray bursting down the forecastle scuttle, rather too much
diluted and pickled it to my taste.

The beef was fine—tough, but with body in it. They said
it was bull-beef; others, that it was dromedary beef; but
I do not know, for certain, how that was. They had dumplings
too; small, but substantial, symmetrically globular, and indestructible
dumplings. I fancied that you could feel them,
and roll them about in you after they were swallowed. If you
stooped over too far forward, you risked their pitching out of
you like billiard-balls. The bread—but that couldn't be helped;
besides, it was an anti-scorbutic; in short, the bread contained
the only fresh fare they had. But the forecastle was not very
light, and it was very easy to step over into a dark corner
when you ate it. But all in all, taking her from truck to helm,
considering the dimensions of the cook's boilers, including his
own live parchment boilers; fore and aft, I say, the Samuel
Enderby was a jolly ship; of good fare and plenty; fine flip
and strong; crack fellows all, and capital from boot heels to

But why was it, think ye, that the Samuel Enderby, and
some other English whalers I know of—not all though—were
such famous, hospitable ships; that passed round the beef, and
the bread, and the can, and the joke; and were not soon weary
of eating, and drinking, and laughing? I will tell you. The
abounding good cheer of these English whalers is matter for
historical research. Nor have I been at all sparing of historical
whale research, when it has seemed needed.

The English were preceded in the whale fishery by the Hollanders,
Zealanders, and Danes; from whom they derived many
terms still extant in the fishery; and what is yet more, their


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fat old fashions, touching plenty to eat and drink. For, as a
general thing, the English merchant-ship scrimps her crew; but
not so the English whaler. Hence, in the English, this thing
of whaling good cheer is not normal and natural, but incidental
and particular; and, therefore, must have some special origin,
which is here pointed out, and will be still further elucidated.

During my researches in the Leviathanic histories, I stumbled
upon an ancient Dutch volume, which, by the musty whaling
smell of it, I knew must be about whalers. The title was,
“Dan Coopman,” wherefore I concluded that this must be the
invaluable memoirs of some Amsterdam cooper in the fishery,
as every whale ship must carry its cooper. I was reinforced in
this opinion by seeing that it was the production of one “Fitz
Swackhammer.” But my friend Dr. Snodhead, a very learned
man, professor of Low Dutch and High German in the college
of Santa Claus and St. Pott's, to whom I handed the work for
translation, giving him a box of sperm candles for his trouble—
this same Dr. Snodhead, so soon as he spied the book, assured
me that “Dan Coopman” did not mean “The Cooper,” but
“The Merchant.” In short, this ancient and learned Low
Dutch book treated of the commerce of Holland; and, among
other subjects, contained a very interesting account of its whale
fishery. And in this chapter it was, headed “Smeer,” or “Fat,”
that I found a long detailed list of the outfits for the larders
and cellars of 180 sail of Dutch whalemen; from which list, as
translated by Dr. Snodhead, I transcribe the following:

400,000 lbs. of beef.

60,000 lbs. Friesland pork.

150,000 lbs. of stock fish.

550,000 lbs. of biscuit.

72,000 lbs. of soft bread.

2,800 firkins of butter.

20,000 lbs. Texel & Leyden cheese.

144,000 lbs. cheese (probably an inferior article).


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550 ankers of Geneva.

10,800 barrels of beer.

Most statistical tables are parchingly dry in the reading; not
so in the present case, however, where the reader is flooded
with whole pipes, barrels, quarts, and gills of good gin and
good cheer.

At the time, I devoted three days to the studious digesting
of all this beer, beef, and bread, during which many profound
thoughts were incidentally suggested to me, capable of a transcendental
and Platonic application; and, furthermore, I compiled
supplementary tables of my own, touching the probable quantity
of stock-fish, &c., consumed by every Low Dutch harpooneer
in that ancient Greenland and Spitzbergen whale fishery. In
the first place, the amount of butter, and Texel and Leyden
cheese consumed, seems amazing. I impute it, though, to their
naturally unctuous natures, being rendered still more unctuous
by the nature of their vocation, and especially by their pursuing
their game in those frigid Polar Seas, on the very coasts of
that Esquimaux country where the convivial natives pledge
each other in bumpers of train oil.

The quantity of beer, too, is very large, 10,800 barrels. Now,
as those polar fisheries could only be prosecuted in the short
summer of that climate, so that the whole cruise of one of these
Dutch whalemen, including the short voyage to and from the
Spitzbergen sea, did not much exceed three months, say, and
reckoning 30 men to each of their fleet of 180 sail, we have
5,400 Low Dutch seamen in all; therefore, I say, we have precisely
two barrels of beer per man, for a twelve weeks' allowance,
exclusive of his fair proportion of that 550 ankers of gin. Now,
whether these gin and beer harpooneers, so fuddled as one
might fancy them to have been, were the right sort of men to
stand up in a boat's head, and take good aim at flying whales;
this would seem somewhat improbable. Yet they did aim at
them, and hit them too. But this was very far North, be it


Page 498
remembered, where beer agrees well with the constitution;
upon the Equator, in our southern fishery, beer would be apt to
make the harpooneer sleepy at the mast-head and boozy in his
boat; and grievous loss might ensue to Nantucket and New

But no more; enough has been said to show that the old
Dutch whalers of two or three centuries ago were high livers;
and that the English whalers have not neglected so excellent an
example. For, say they, when cruising in an empty ship, if
you can get nothing better out of the world, get a good dinner
out of it, at least. And this empties the decanter.