The previous chapter gave account of an immense body or herd of Sperm Whales,
and there was also then given the probable cause inducing those vas_ggregations.
Now, though such great bodies are at times encountered, yet, as must have bee_een, even at the present day, small detached bands are occasionally observed,
embracing from twenty to fifty individuals each. Such bands are known a_chools. They generally are of two sorts; those composed almost entirely o_emales, and those mustering none but young vigorous males, or bulls as the_re familiarly designated.
In cavalier attendance upon the school of females, you invariably see a mal_f full grown magnitude, but not old; who, upon any alarm, evinces hi_allantry by falling in the rear and covering the flight of his ladies. I_ruth, this gentleman is a luxurious Ottoman, swimming about over the water_orld, surroundingly accompanied by all the solaces and endearments of th_arem. The contrast between this Ottoman and his concubines is striking;
because, while he is always of the largest leviathanic proportions, th_adies, even at full growth, are not more than one-third of the bulk of a_verage-sized male. They are comparatively delicate, indeed; I dare say, no_o exceed half a dozen yards round the waist. Nevertheless, it cannot b_enied, that upon the whole they are hereditarily entitled to en bon point.
It is very curious to watch this harem and its lord in their indolen_amblings. Like fashionables, they are for ever on the move in leisurel_earch of variety. You meet them on the Line in time for the full flower o_he Equatorial feeding season, having just returned, perhaps, from spendin_he summer in the Northern seas, and so cheating summer of all unpleasan_eariness and warmth. By the time they have lounged up and down the promenad_f the Equator awhile, they start for the Oriental waters in anticipation o_he cool season there, and so evade the other excessive temperature of th_ear.
When serenely advancing on one of these journeys, if any strange suspiciou_ights are seen, my lord whale keeps a wary eye on his interesting family.
Should any unwarrantably pert young Leviathan coming that way, presume to dra_onfidentially close to one of the ladies, with what prodigious fury th_ashaw assails him, and chases him away! High times, indeed, if unprinciple_oung rakes like him are to be permitted to invade the sanctity of domesti_liss; though do what the Bashaw will, he cannot keep the most notoriou_othario out of his bed; for alas! all fish bed in common. As ashore, th_adies often cause the most terrible duels among their rival admirers; just s_ith the whales, who sometimes come to deadly battle, and all for love. The_ence with their long lower jaws, sometimes locking them together, and s_triving for the supremacy like elks that warringly interweave their antlers.
Not a few are captured having the deep scars of these encounters,— furrowe_eads, broken teeth, scolloped fins; and in some instances, wrenched an_islocated mouths.
But supposing the invader of domestic bliss to betake himself away at th_irst rush of the harem’s lord, then is it very diverting to watch that lord.
Gently he insinuates his vast bulk among them again and revels there awhile,
still in tantalizing vicinity to young Lothario, like pious Solomon devoutl_orshipping among his thousand concubines. Granting other whales to be i_ight, the fisherman will seldom give chase to one of these Grand Turks; fo_hese Grand Turks are too lavish of their strength, and hence thei_nctuousness is small. As for the sons and the daughters they beget, why,
those sons and daughters must take care of themselves; at least, with only th_aternal help. For like certain other omnivorous roving lovers that might b_amed, my Lord Whale has no taste for the nursery, however much for the bower;
and so, being a great traveller, he leaves his anonymous babies all over th_orld; every baby an exotic. In good time, nevertheless, as the ardor of yout_eclines; as years and dumps increase; as reflection lends her solemn pauses;
in short, as a general lassitude overtakes the sated Turk; then a love of eas_nd virtue supplants the love for maidens; our Ottoman enters upon th_mpotent, repentant, admonitory stage of life, forswears, disbands the harem,
and grown to an exemplary, sulky old soul, goes about all alone among th_eridians and parallels saying his prayers, and warning each young Leviatha_rom his amorous errors.
Now, as the harem of whales is called by the fishermen a school, so is th_ord and master of that school technically known as the schoolmaster. It i_herefore not in strict character, however admirably satirical, that afte_oing to school himself, he should then go abroad inculcating not what h_earned there, but the folly of it. His title, schoolmaster, would ver_aturally seem derived from the name bestowed upon the harem itself, but som_ave surmised that the man who first thus entitled this sort of Ottoman whale,
must have read the memoirs of Vidocq, and informed himself what sort of _ountry-schoolmaster that famous Frenchman was in his younger days, and wha_as the nature of those occult lessons he inculcated into some of his pupils.
The same secludedness and isolation to which the schoolmaster whale betake_imself in his advancing years, is true of all aged Sperm Whales. Almos_niversally, a lone whale— as a solitary Leviathan is called—proves an ancien_ne. Like venerable moss-bearded Daniel Boone, he will have no one near hi_ut Nature herself; and her he takes to wife in the wilderness of waters, an_he best of wives she is, though she keeps so many moody secrets.
The schools composing none but young and vigorous males, previously mentioned,
offer a strong contrast to the harem schools. For while those female whale_re characteristically timid, the young males, or forty-barrel-bulls, as the_all them, are by far the most pugnacious of all Leviathans, and proverbiall_he most dangerous to encounter; excepting those wondrous grey-headed,
grizzled whales, sometimes met, and these will fight you like grim fiend_xasperated by a penal gout.
The Forty-barrel-bull schools are larger than the harem schools. Like a mob o_oung collegians, they are full of fight, fun, and wickedness, tumbling roun_he world at such a reckless, rollicking rate, that no prudent underwrite_ould insure them any more than he would a riotous lad at Yale or Harvard.
They soon relinquish this turbulence though, and when about three-fourth_rown, break up, and separately go about in quest of settlements, that is,
Another point of difference between the male and female schools is still mor_haracteristic of the sexes. Say you strike a Forty-barrel-bull—poor devil!
all his comrades quit him. But strike a member of the harem school, and he_ompanions swim around her with every token of concern, sometimes lingering s_ear her and so long, as themselves to fall a prey.