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Chapter 111: The Pacific.


When gliding by the Bashee isles we emerged at last upon the great South
Sea; were it not for other things, I could have greeted my dear Pacific
with uncounted thanks, for now the long supplication of my youth was
answered; that serene ocean rolled eastwards from me a thousand leagues
of blue.

There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently
awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath; like those
fabled undulations of the Ephesian sod over the buried Evangelist St.
John. And meet it is, that over these sea-pastures, wide-rolling watery
prairies and Potters' Fields of all four continents, the waves should
rise and fall, and ebb and flow unceasingly; for here, millions of mixed
shades and shadows, drowned dreams, somnambulisms, reveries; all that
we call lives and souls, lie dreaming, dreaming, still; tossing like
slumberers in their beds; the ever-rolling waves but made so by their

To any meditative Magian rover, this serene Pacific, once beheld, must
ever after be the sea of his adoption. It rolls the midmost waters of
the world, the Indian ocean and Atlantic being but its arms. The same
waves wash the moles of the new-built Californian towns, but yesterday
planted by the recentest race of men, and lave the faded but still
gorgeous skirts of Asiatic lands, older than Abraham; while all between
float milky-ways of coral isles, and low-lying, endless, unknown
Archipelagoes, and impenetrable Japans. Thus this mysterious, divine
Pacific zones the world's whole bulk about; makes all coasts one bay
to it; seems the tide-beating heart of earth. Lifted by those eternal
swells, you needs must own the seductive god, bowing your head to Pan.

But few thoughts of Pan stirred Ahab's brain, as standing like an
iron statue at his accustomed place beside the mizen rigging, with one
nostril he unthinkingly snuffed the sugary musk from the Bashee isles
(in whose sweet woods mild lovers must be walking), and with the other
consciously inhaled the salt breath of the new found sea; that sea in
which the hated White Whale must even then be swimming. Launched at
length upon these almost final waters, and gliding towards the Japanese
cruising-ground, the old man's purpose intensified itself. His firm lips
met like the lips of a vice; the Delta of his forehead's veins swelled
like overladen brooks; in his very sleep, his ringing cry ran through
the vaulted hull, "Stern all! the White Whale spouts thick blood!"