Front Cover
 Title Page
 Back Cover

Title: Stories about the whale
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00057829/00001
 Material Information
Title: Stories about the whale
Series Title: Stories about the whale
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Rufus Merrill
Place of Publication: Concord, NH
Publication Date: 1850
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00057829
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - ALK2588
alephbibnum - 002250831

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
    Back Cover
        Page 25
Full Text

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Here is the picture of a whale, some of which are a
hundred feet long, or as long as the mast of a ship, and
as big round as a hay-stack. His mouth is 30 feet
long, and, when open, it is large enough to drive in a
horse and wagon.



HE Whale is not
only the largest
fish, but he is the
largest animal in
the world. A
arge whale is
twenty times as
ig as an elephant.
According to in-
dications afforded
by notches in the
whale-bone, the whale does not at-
tain his full growth under twenty-
five years, and is supposed to reach
a very great age.


HE blubber, the most val-
uable part of the animal,
forms a complete wrap-
Sper round the whole body,
of the thickness of from eight to
twenty inches.
The head of the whale is
about one third the length of the ani-
mal; and the open mouth displays a
frightful chasm. The jaw-bones are
from sixteen to eighteen feet in
length, and extend along the mouth
in a curved line, till they meet and
form a kind of crescent. The lips,
nearly twenty feet long, show, when
open, a cavity capable of receiving
a ship's jolly-boat, with her crew.
The tongue is almost immovably
fixed to the lower jaw, seeming one
great lump of fat; and, in fact, it
fills several hogsheads with blubber.

The tail is twenty-four feet broad;
and, when the fish lies on its side,
its blow is tremendous; with it he
dashes the boats of the whalemen,
and disables or kills the sailors.

UT the most curi-
ous feature of the
whale is the blow-
holes, or nostrils,
placed nearly on
the crown of the
head, and which
appear like natu-
ral jets of water.
They emit awarm
vapor; and when
the breathing is vehement, water is
thrown to the height of thirty or
forty feet in the air. The sight of


this spout, or the loud noise caused
by its emission, is the first sign to the
whaler of its approach.

HE female nourishes
its young by her own
milk. .The mother
Shows the greatest af-
fection for her young.
These delicate nurs-
lings, only fourteen or fifteen feet in
length, and weighing 2000 pounds,
are often killed for the sole purpose
of provoking an encounter with the
parent, and then the contest is deadly
and desperate.
The fidelity of these animals to
each other exceeds whatever we are
told of even the constancy of birds.
Some fishers having struck one of
two whales, a male and a female;
that were in company together, the

wounded fish made a long and ter-
rible resistance: it struck down a
boat with three men in it, with a sin-
gle blow of the tail, by which all
went to the bottom. The other still
attended its companion, and lent it
every assistance ; till, at last, the fish
that was struck sunk under the num-
ber of its wounds; while its faithful
associate, disdaining to survive the
loss, with great bellowing stretched
itself upon the dead fish, and shared
its fate.
The common, or right whale, is the
exclusive object of the Greenland
fishery. The various species of this
whale are found in every part of the
ocean, but most abundantly in the
Greenland seas, and on the banks
of Brazil. Enormous as his bulk is,
rumor and the love of the marvellous
have represented it as being at one

time much greater, and the existing
race as only the degenerate remnant
of mightier ancestors.

LENGTH of ninety
feet would imply a
weight of seventy
tons, or 150,000
pounds, nearlythe
weight of 200 fat
oxen. Of this
vast mass, the oil
in a whale com-
pose about thirty
tons; the bones
of the head, fins, and tail, weigh
eight or ten; the carcass, thirty or
thirty-two tons.
The largest quantity of oil ob-
tained from the whale, is about 200


barrels. Before the revolutionary
war, a sloop from New Bedford cap-
tured one in the Straits of Belle Isle,
which yielded 212 barrels of oil.
Two fish loaded the sloop with 400
barrels of oil, and 4000 pounds of
bone. These, however, were of ex-
traordinary size.
This inoffensive and lethargic
creature sometimes displays vivacity
and playfulness. Putting himself in
a vertical position, the head down-
wards, with a rapid motion of the
tail he laves the sea into foam and
froth. At other times, with a most
ludicrous agility, he darts wholly
from his element, and the mass,
weighing perhaps seventy tons, is
seen suspended in the air. If, as a
certain philosopher would make us be-
lieve, this earth is only a thin upper-
crust, it is happy that he alights on

so flexible and elastic a medium as
water; for such ungainly pranks
might fracture the surface, and give
us, however unwillingly, an inspec-
tion of the far-famed Symme#

The whale is compelled to come
frequently to the surface, for the pur-
pose of breathing. The nearest
boat approaches from behind, from
which the harpoon is launched into
the huge carcass. This it is almost
impossible to disengage, it being
provided with two strong barbs. If
not instantly killed, the whale sinks,
and sinks often to a great depth.
Exhausted by the pressure of the
water, he sometimes comes up dead.
Frequently he sinks only a short

distance; but as soon as he rises,
the whalemen endeavor to plunge
into him the lance, an instrument of
the finest steel, sharpened with the
keenness of the surgeon's lancet.
Attached to the harpoon is a line,
which, as the animal is disposed to
sink or dash through the waves, is
suffered to run loose around a small
post in the bow of the boat, and it
often flies with such rapidity that
the harpooner is enveloped in
smoke, and it becomes necessary to
pour on water, to prevent the friction
from generating flame. If the Jine
becomes entangled while the whale
is sinking, the boat rears one end
aloft, and makes a majestic dive into
the deep. In the contest, sometimes
the boat is dashed into shivers, and
the men experience, no pleasant im-
mersion, if they are fortunate enough

to escape without broken limbs. The
whale, stung with the fatal wound,
sometimes dashes along the surface
with a death-like energy, and the
little boat, almost under water, flies
with the velocity of the wind. If he
escape, he escapes with a prize on
which he has no cause of congratu-
lation, for he carries, deeply buried
in his body, one or more of the sharp
instruments, and drags off several
hundred fathoms of rope. Our
whalemen have found irons in the
carcass of a whale, known to have
been planted there several years be-
fore on another ocean. As the warp
flies, it sometimes throws its coils
around the body of a man, and drag-
ging him over, it carries him into the
ocean depths, from which he never
more emerges.. Sometimes it only
dislocates or breaks the legs and

arms of the unfortunate men who
become entangled in the folds.
CAPTAIN of a New Lon-
don ship was caught by
two coils of the warp, one
around his body, and an-
other around his leg. He had
the presence of mind immedi-
ately to seize his knife, and
after a while succeeded in cutting
himself loose. He was carried,
however, to a great depth, and when
he returned to the surface was al-
most exhausted.
A whale, in attempting to escape,
sometimes exerts prodigious strength,
and is very dangerous. In 1812, a
boat's crew struck a whale near a
cake of ice, and yery soon made a
signal to their, companions for more
line. While another boat was row-

ing to their assistance with the ut-
most speed, the harpooner was seen
enveloped in smoke from the friction
of the line, which drew the bow of
the boat down to a level with the
water. When the relief boat was
within a hundred yards, the crew
were seen to leap into the sea; when
the boat disappeared beneath the
waters, with all the line attached to
it. The crew were saved. The
whale was pursued, and when over-
taken, three harpoons were darted
at him. The line of two other boats
was then run out, which broke, and
enabled the whale to carry off, in all,
four miles of rope, valued, with the
boat, at $600. The daring fishers
again gave chase, and at last suc-
ceeded in capturing him, but not till
he had run out 10,440 yards, or
about six miles of line.

After the whale is struck with the
lance, blood, mixed with oil, streams
copiously from his wounds and from
the blow-holes, dyeing the sea to a
great distance, and sprinkling and
sometimes drenching the boats and
crews. The animal now becomes
more and more exhausted; but, at
the approach of his dissolution, he
often makes a convulsive and ener-
getic struggle, rearing his tail high
in the air, and whirling it with a
noise which is heard at the distance
of several miles. At length, quite
overpowered and exhausted, he lays
himself on his back or side, and ex-
The whale, being dead, is lashed
alongside the ship. Then three or
four men, with irons on their feet, to.
prevent them from slipping, get on
the whale and begin to cut out

pieces of blubber about three feet
thick, and eight long, which are

hoisted into the ship. The bones of
the head being then taken out, the
remainder, a huge heap of fleshy and
muscular substance, is abandoned;
the residue is purified and refined.

AMONG the accidents that have
occurred in the prosecution of this
business, the loss of the ship Essex,
of Nantucket, is the most remarka-




The ship was struck by a large
whale, about 100 feet in length. He
was lying quietly, with his head to-
wards the ship, about twenty rods
from the bow. He spouted two or
three times, and then 'disappeared.
In less than three seconds he came
up again, about the length of the
ship off, and made directly for it.
He gave such an appalling and tre-
mendous jar as nearly threw all on
their faces. The ship brought up
as suddenly and violently as if she
had struck a rock. He struck the
ship the second time, and she imme-
diately sunk.
This disastrous encounter oc-
curred near the equator, at 1000
miles distance from land. Provis-
ioned and equipped with, whatever
they could save from the wreck,
twenty men embarked in three slen-


der whale boats, one of which was
-crazy and leaky. One boat was
never heard of afterwards. The
crews of the others suffered every
misery that can he conceived, from
famine and exposure. In the cap-
tain's boat they drew lots for the
privilege of being shot, to satisfy the
rabid hunger of the rest. After
nearly -three months, the captain's
boat with two survivors, and the
mate's boat with three, were taken
up at sea, 2000 miles from the scene
of the disaster, by different ships.
Mr. Scoresby, in one of his ear-
liest voyages, saw a boat thrown
several yards into the air, from
which it fell on its side, plunging the
crew into the sea. They were hap-
pily taken up, when only one was
found to have received a severe con-


SN 1826, the ship
Dundee, of Lon-
don, had ventured
so far north that
she had become
completely beset
and inclosed with-
in impenetrable
barriers, and the
crew could not
obtain assistance
From the other
ships. To add to their distress, a
Dutch vessel near them was com-
pletely wrecked, and the crew, to the
number of forty-six, came on board
entirely destitute. They were sup-
ported from August 23 to October 6,
when they set out in their boats to
reach the nearest Danish settlement;
but as this was 350 miles distant,

Perilous situation of the English ship Dundee, surrounded by mountains of ice.

they could have small hope of ever
reaching it. The crew of the Dun-
dee were reduced to extreme dis-
tress by want of provisions ; but the
coarse flesh of some seals and bears
enabled them to sustain life. On
the 1st of February they caught a
whale, and on the 16th a second,
which afforded great relief. The
sea was not sufficiently frozen to
prevent enormous icebergs from
tossing about with thundering noise,
and tearing up the fields of ice by
which the ship was surrounded. On
the 224 of February, one of uncom-
mon magnitude was seen bearing
directly upon their stern, threatening
to crush the ship; whereupon the
seamen leaped upon the ice, and ran
to some distance. The iceberg rolled
on with a tremendous crash, break-
ing the field into a thousand frag-

ments, and hiding the ship from
view, which they never expected to
see again; but providentially it left
her uninjured. The mariners lost
sight of the sun for seventy-five days,
during which they suffered such se-
vere cold that they could not walk
the deck five minutes without being
frost-bitten. By great good fortune,
the body of ice in which they were
inclosed, drifted to the southward
about 800 miles, when the weather
became more moderate. On the
1st of April they had the good for-
tune to meet the ship Lee, which
had just arrived; they were liberally
supplied with provisions and every
necessary to repair the ship, with
which they were enabled to reach
home on the 2d of June.
Catching whales gives employ-

ment to many thousands of men, and
is sometimes very profitable.
From New Bedford, Nantucket,
Nev, London, and some other places
in the United States, a large num-
ber of ships go out every year in
pursuit of them. The business is
attended with many hardships, and
much danger, as the whales often
dash to pieces the boats .in which
the sailors go out to attack them.
If boys know when they are well
off, they will seek some other occu-
pation besides that of whaling, when
they come to be young men.

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