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The previous chapter gave account of an immense body or
herd of Sperm Whales, and there was also then given the probable
cause inducing those vast aggregations.

Now, though such great bodies are at times encountered, yet,
as must have been seen, even at the present day, small detached
bands are occasionally observed, embracing from twenty to fifty
individuals each. Such bands are known as schools. They
generally are of two sorts; those composed almost entirely of
females, and those mustering none but young vigorous males,
or bulls, as they are familiarly designated.

In cavalier attendance upon the school of females, you invariably
see a male of full grown magnitude, but not old; who,
upon any alarm, evinces his gallantry by falling in the rear and
covering the flight of his ladies. In truth, this gentleman is a
luxurious Ottoman, swimming about over the watery world,
surroundingly accompanied by all the solaces and endearments
of the harem. The contrast between this Ottoman and his concubines
is striking; because, while he is always of the largest
leviathanic proportions, the ladies, even at full growth, are not
more than one third of the bulk of an average-sized male. They


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are comparatively delicate, indeed; I dare say, not to exceed
half a dozen yards round the waist. Nevertheless, it cannot be
denied, that upon the whole they are hereditarily entitled to
en bon point.

It is very curious to watch this harem and its lord in their
indolent ramblings. Like fashionables, they are for ever on
the move in leisurely search of variety. You meet them on the
Line in time for the full flower of the Equatorial feeding season,
having just returned, perhaps, from spending the summer in the
Northern seas, and so cheating summer of all unpleasant
weariness and warmth. By the time they have lounged up
and down the promenade of the Equator awhile, they start for
the Oriental waters in anticipation of the cool season there, and
so evade the other excessive temperature of the year.

When serenely advancing on one of these journeys, if any
strange suspicious sights are seen, my lord whale keeps a wary
eye on his interesting family. Should any unwarrantably pert
young Leviathan coming that way, presume to draw confidentially
close to one of the ladies, with what prodigious fury the
Bashaw assails him, and chases him away! High times, indeed,
if unprincipled young rakes like him are to be permitted to
invade the sanctity of domestic bliss; though do what the
Bashaw will, he cannot keep the most notorious Lothario out
of his bed; for, alas! all fish bed in common. As ashore, the
ladies often cause the most terrible duels among their rival admirers;
just so with the whales, who sometimes come to deadly
battle, and all for love. They fence with their long lower jaws,
sometimes locking them together, and so striving for the supremacy
like elks that warringly interweave their antlers. Not a
few are captured having the deep scars of these encounters,—
furrowed heads, broken teeth, scolloped fins; and in some instances,
wrenched and dislocated mouths.

But supposing the invader of domestic bliss to betake himself
away at the first rush of the harem's lord, then is it very


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diverting to watch that lord. Gently he insinuates his vast bulk
among them again and revels there awhile, still in tantalizing
vicinity to young Lothario, like pious Solomon devoutly worshipping
among his thousand concubines. Granting other whales
to be in sight, the fishermen will seldom give chase to one of
these Grand Turks; for these Grand Turks are too lavish of their
strength, and hence their unctuousness is small. As for the
sons and the daughters they beget, why, those sons and daughters
must take care of themselves; at least, with only the maternal
help. For like certain other omnivorous roving lovers
that might be named, my Lord Whale has no taste for the
nursery, however much for the bower; and so, being a great
traveller, he leaves his anonymous babies all over the
world; every baby an exotic. In good time, nevertheless,
as the ardor of youth declines; as years and dumps increase;
as reflection lends her solemn pauses; in short, as a
general lassitude overtakes the sated Turk; then a love of ease
and virtue supplants the love for maidens; our Ottoman enters
upon the impotent, repentant, admonitory stage of life, forswears,
disbands the harem, and grown to an exemplary, sulky
old soul, goes about all alone among the meridians and parallels
saying his prayers, and warning each young Leviathan from his
amorous errors.

Now, as the harem of whales is called by the fishermen a
school, so is the lord and master of that school technically known
as the schoolmaster. It is therefore not in strict character, however
admirably satirical, that after going to school himself, he
should then go abroad inculcating not what he learned there,
but the folly of it. His title, schoolmaster, would very naturally
seem derived from the name bestowed upon the harem itself,
but some have surmised that the man who first thus entitled
this sort of Ottoman whale, must have read the memoirs of
Vidocq, and informed himself what sort of a country-schoolmaster
that famous Frenchman was in his younger days, and


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what was the nature of those occult lessons he inculcated into
some of his pupils.

The same secludedness and isolation to which the schoolmaster
whale betakes himself in his advancing years, is true of all aged
Sperm Whales. Almost universally, a lone whale—as a solitary
Leviathan is called—proves an ancient one. Like venerable
moss-bearded Daniel Boone, he will have no one near him but
Nature herself; and her he takes to wife in the wilderness of
waters, and the best of wives she is, though she keeps so many
moody secrets.

The schools composing none but young and vigorous males,
previously mentioned, offer a strong contrast to the harem schools.
For while those female whales are characteristically timid, the
young males, or forty-barrel-bulls, as they call them, are by far
the most pugnacious of all Leviathans, and proverbially the
most dangerous to encounter; excepting those wondrous grey-headed,
grizzled whales, sometimes met, and these will fight
you like grim fiends exasperated by a penal gout.

The Forty-barrel-bull schools are larger than the harem
schools. Like a mob of young collegians, they are full of fight,
fun, and wickedness, tumbling round the world at such a reckless,
rollicking rate, that no prudent underwriter would insure
them any more than he would a riotous lad at Yale or Harvard.
They soon relinquish this turbulence though, and when about
three fourths grown, break up, and separately go about in quest
of settlements, that is, harems.

Another point of difference between the male and female
schools is still more characteristic of the sexes. Say you strike
a Forty-barrel-bull—poor devil! all his comrades quit him. But
strike a member of the harem school, and her companions swim
around her with every token of concern, sometimes lingering so
near her and so long, as themselves to fall a prey.