Herman Melville Quotes

So far as I am individually concerned, & independent of my pocket, it is my earnest desire to write those sort of books which are said to "fail."
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. letter, Oct. 6, 1849, to his father-in-law, Lemuel Shaw. Correspondence, vol. 14, The Writings of Herman Melville, ed. Lynn Horth (1993).
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Civilization has not ever been the brother of equality. Freedom was born among the wild eyries in the mountains; and barbarous tribes have sheltered under her wings, when the enlightened people of the plain have nestled under different pinions.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 161, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Read from a scroll.
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Behold here the fate of a sailor! They give him the last toss, and no one asks whose child he was.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Omoo (1846), ch. 12, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 2, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968). On the occasion of a burial at sea.
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Mystery is in the morning, and mystery in the night, and the beauty of mystery is everywhere; but still the plain truth remains, that mouth and purse must be filled.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. The Confidence-Man (1857), ch. 37, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 10, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1984). Spoken by Mark Winsome, the transcendentalist.
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Old Abe is much better looking than I expected & younger looking. He shook hands like a good fellow—working hard at it like a man sawing wood at so much per cord.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. letter, Mar. 24 and 25, 1861, to his wife, Elizabeth Shaw Melville. Correspondence, vol. 14, The Writings of Herman Melville, ed. Lynn Horth (1993). Written shortly after attending a White House levee.
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These South savannahs may yet prove battle-fields.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 162, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970). Spoken by Mohi, the historian, about slavery.
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Charge a man with one misdemeanor, and all his peccadilloes are raked up and assorted before him.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Omoo (1846), ch. 79, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 2, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968).
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Something further may follow of this Masquerade.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. The Confidence-Man (1857), ch. 45, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 10, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1984). The last sentence of the work.
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For my part I love sleepy fellows, and the more ignorant the better. Damn your wide-awake and knowing chaps. As for sleepiness, it is one of the noblest qualities of humanity. There is something sociable about it, too. Think of those sensible & sociable millions of good fellows all taking a good long friendly snooze together, under the sod—no quarrels, no imaginary grievances, no envies, heart-burnings, & thinking how much better that other chap is off—none of this: but all equally free-&-easy, they sleep away & reel off their nine knots an hour, in perfect amity.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Letter, May 25, 1862, to his brother, Thomas Melville. Correspondence, vol. 14, The Writings of Herman Melville, ed. Lynn Horth (1993).
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He who is ready to despair in solitary peril, plucks up a heart in the presence of another. In a plurality of comrades is much countenance and consolation.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Mardi (1849), ch. 34, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 3, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1970).
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