Herman Melville Quotes

Oh! mock not the poniarded heart. The stabbed man knows the steel; prate not to him that it is only a ticking feather.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. IV, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
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I will frankly declare, that after passing a few weeks in this valley of the Marquesas, I formed a higher estimate of human nature than I had ever before entertained. But alas! since then I have been one of the crew of a man-of-war, and the pent-up wickedness of five hundred men has nearly overturned all my previous theories.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Typee (1846), ch. 27, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 1, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968).
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The remnant of Indians thereabout—all but exterminated in their recent and final war with regular white troops, a war waged by the Red Men for their native soil and natural rights—had been coerced into the occupancy of wilds not far beyond the Mississippi.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "John Marr." John Marr (1888), p. 162, Collected Poems of Herman Melville, ed. Howard P. Vincent (1947).
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Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 41, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).
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The sweetest joys of life grow in the very jaws of its perils.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. IV, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
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I ask whether the mere eating of human flesh so very far exceeds in barbarity that custom which only a few years since was practised in enlightened England:Ma convicted traitor, perhaps a man found guilty of honesty, patriotism, and suchlike heinous crimes, had his head lopped off with a huge axe, his bowels dragged out and thrown into a fire; while his body, carved into four quarters, was with his head exposed upon pikes, and permitted to rot and fester among the public haunts of men!
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Typee (1846), ch. 17, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 1, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968).
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He is an optician, daily having to do with the microscope, telescope, and other inventions for sharpening our natural sight, thus enabling us mortals (as I once heard an eccentric put it) liberally to enlarge the field of our original and essential ignorance.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Inscription Epistolary to W.C.R..." John Marr (1888), pp. 468-469, Collected Poems of Herman Melville, ed. Howard P. Vincent (1947). Referring to "Hillary."
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The rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander's soul.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 96, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988). Ahab was the commander.
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It is impossible to talk or to write without apparently throwing oneself helplessly open.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. XVIII, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
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By many a legendary tale of violence and wrong, as well as by events which have passed before their eyes, these people have been taught to look upon white men with abhorrence.... I can sympathize with the spirit which prompts the Typee warrior to guard all the passes to his valley with the point of his levelled spear, and, standing upon the beach, with his back turned upon his green home, to hold at bay the intruding European.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Typee (1846), ch. 27, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 1, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968).
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