Herman Melville Quotes

All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event—in the living act, the undoubted deed—there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask!
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 36, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988). Spoken by Captain Ahab about Moby-Dick.
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Can it be, that the Greek grammarians invented their dual number for the particular benefit of twins?
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 53, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
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'Tis no dishonor when he who would dishonor you, only dishonors himself.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 87, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969). Spoken by Ushant, after being flogged.
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Are sailors, frequenters of fiddlers' greens, without vices? No; but less often than with landsmen do their vices, so called, partake of crookedness of heart, seeming less to proceed from viciousness than exuberance of vitality after long constraint: frank manifestations in accordance with natural law.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Billy Budd, Sailor (c. 1889), ch. 2, eds. Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. (1962).
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Of the quaking recruit, three pitched battles make a grim grenadier; and he who shrank from the muzzle of a cannon, is now ready to yield his mustache for a sponge.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 9, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
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Man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 26, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).
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I wonder whether mankind could not get along without all these names, which keep increasing every day, and hour, and moment; till at the last the very air will be full of them; and even in a great plain, men will be breathing each other's breath, owing to the vast multitude of words they use, that consume all the air, just as lamp-burners do gas.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Redburn (1849), ch. 13, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 4, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969). Referring to technological jargon.
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As with ships, so with men; he who turns his back to his foe gives him an advantage.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. White-Jacket (1850), ch. 27, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 5, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1969).
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If a well-constituted individual refrains from blazoning aught amiss or calamitous in his family, a nation in the like circumstance may without reproach be equally discreet.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Billy Budd, Sailor (c. 1889), ch. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford and Merton M. Sealts, Jr. (1962).
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Vivenza might be likened to St. John, feeding on locusts and wild honey, and with prophetic voice, crying to the nations from the wilderness.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 146, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Vivenza, an allegorical representation of the United States.
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