Herman Melville Quotes

Meditation and water are wedded for ever.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 1, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).
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Surrounded as we are by the wants and woes of our fellow-men, and yet given to follow our own pleasures, regardless of their pains, are we not like people sitting up with a corpse, and making merry in the house of the dead?
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 37, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
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Ah! the best righteousness of our man-of-war world seems but an unrealized ideal, after all; and those maxims which, in the hope of bringing about a Millennium, we busily teach to the heathen, we Christians ourselves disregard.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 76, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
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"you were with me all day; stood with me, sat with me, talked with me, looked at me, ate with me, drank with me; and yet, your last act was to clutch for a monster, not only an innocent man, but the most pitiable of all men. So far may even the best man err, in judging the conduct of one with the recesses of whose condition he is not acquainted."
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Benito Cereno" (1855), The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces 1839-1860, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 9, eds. Harrison Hayford, Alma A. MacDougall, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1987). Spoken by Benito Cereno about Amasa Delano's failure to understand that a slave mutiny had been in progress.
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Backward and forward, eternity is the same; already we have been the nothing we dread to be.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 78, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Spoken by Babbalanga, the philosopher.
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All truth is profound.
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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Nearly all literature, in one sense, is made up of guide-books. Old ones tell us the ways our fathers went, through the thoroughfares and courts of old; but how few of those former places can their posterity trace, amid avenues of modern erections; to how few is the old guide-book now a clew! Every age makes its own guide-books, and the old ones are used for waste paper.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 31, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
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Alas! when Virtue sits high aloft on a frigate's poop, when Virtue is crowned in the cabin of a Commodore, when Virtue rules by compulsion, and domineers over Vice as a slave, then Virtue, though her mandates be outwardly observed, bears little interior sway.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 54, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
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Through the port comes the moon-shine astray! It tips the guard's cutlass and silvers this nook; But 'twill die in the dawning of Billy's last day. A jewel-block they'll make of me to-morrow, Pendant pearl from the yard-arm-end Like the ear-drop I gave to Bristol Molly— O, 'tis me, not the sentence they'll suspend.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. poet, novelist. Billy Budd, Foretopman (l. 4-10). . . Selected Poems of Herman Melville. Hennig Cohen, ed. (1991) Fordham University Press.
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As well hate a seraph, as a shark.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 13, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
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