Herman Melville Quotes

wherever we recognize the image of God let us reverence it; though it swing from the gallows.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Mr Parkman's Tour" (1849), 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).
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He, who, in view of its inconsistencies, says of human nature the same that, in view of its contrasts, is said of the divine nature, that it is past finding out, thereby evinces a better appreciation of it than he who, by always representing it in a clear light, leaves it to be inferred that he clearly knows all about it.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. The Confidence-Man (1857), ch. 14, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 10, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1984).
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There is the grand truth about Nathaniel Hawthorne. He says NO! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes. For all men who say yes, lie; and all men who say no,—why, they are in the happy condition of judicious, unincumbered travellers in Europe; they cross the frontiers into Eternity with nothing but a carpet-bag,—that is to say, the Ego. Whereas those yes-gentry, they travel with heaps of baggage, and, damn them! they will never get through the Custom House.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. letter, Apr. 16?, 1851, to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Correspondence, vol. 14, The Writings of Herman Melville, ed. Lynn Horth (1993).
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To you, ye stars, man owes his subtlest raptures, thoughts unspeakable, yet full of faith.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 58, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
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Nobody is so heartily despised as a pusillanimous, lazy, good-for-nothing, land-lubber; a sailor has no bowels of compassion for him.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Omoo (1846), ch. 14, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 2, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968).
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The original character, essentially such, is like a revolving Drummond light, raying away from itself all round it—everything is lit by it, everything starts up to it (mark how it is with Hamlet), so that, in certain minds, there follows upon the adequate conception of such a character, an effect, in its way, akin to that which in Genesis attends upon the beginning of things.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. The Confidence-Man (1857), ch. 44, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 10, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1984).
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I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as the lamb. Ineffable socialities are in me. I would sit down and dine with you and all the gods in old Rome's Pantheon. It is a strange feeling—no hopefulness is in it, no despair. Content—that is it; and irresponsibility; but without licentious inclination.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. letter, Nov. 17?, 1851, to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Correspondence, vol. 14, The Writings of Herman Melville, ed. Lynn Horth (1993). On Moby-Dick.
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A thing may be incredible and still be true; sometimes it is incredible because it is true.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 97, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
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Say what they will of the glowing independence one feels in the saddle, give me the first morning flush of your cheery pedestrian!
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Omoo (1846), ch. 67, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 2, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968).
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There are some persons in this world, who, unable to give better proof of being wise, take a strange delight in showing what they think they have sagaciously read in mankind by uncharitable suspicions of them.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. The Confidence-Man (1857), ch. 6, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 10, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1984). Spoken by the wooden-legged man.
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