The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws; others were tufted with knots of human hair; and one was sickle-shaped, with a vast handle, sweeping round like the segment made in the new-mown grass by long armed mower. You shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what monstrous cannibal and savage could ever have gone a death-harvesting with such a hacking, horrifying implement. Mixed with these were rusty old whaling lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. Some were storied weapons. With this once long whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that harpoon—so like a corkscrew now—was flung in Javan seas, and run away with by a whale, years afterwards slain off the Cape of Blanco.(5) The original iron entered nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in the body of a man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found imbedded in the hump.
Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low-arched way—cut through what in old times must have been a great central chimney with fire-places all round—you enter the public room. A still duskier place is this, with such low ponderous beams above, and such old wrinkled planks beneath, that you would almost fancy you trod some old craft’s cockpits, especially of such a howling night, when this corner-anchored old ark rocked so furiously. On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like table covered with cracked glass cases, filled with dusty rareties gathered from this wide wwolrd’s remotest nooks. Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a dark-looking den—the bar—a rude attempt at a right whale’s head. Be that how it may, there stands the vast arched bone of the whale’s jaw, so wide, a coach might almost drive beneath it. Within are shabby shelves, ranged round with old decanters, bottles, flasks; and in those jaws of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah (6) (by which name indeed they called him), bustled a little withered old man, who, fo their money, dearly sells the sailors deliriums and death.
Abominable are the tumblers into which he pours his poison. Though true cylinders without—within, the villanous green goggling glasses (7) deceitfully tapered downwards to a cheating bottom. Parallel meridians rudely pecked into the glass, surround these footpads’ goblets. Fill to this mark, and your charge is but a penny, to this a penny more; and so on to the full glass—the Cape Horn measure (8), which you may gulph down for a shilling.
Upon entering the place I found a number of young seamen gathered about a table, examining by a dim light divers specimen of skrimshander (9). I sought the landlord, and telling him I desired to be accommodated with a room, received for answer that his house was full—not a bed unoccu-…
(5) That is, the whale carried the harpoon from the East Indies (Java) to the cape off the Peruvian coast of South America.
(6) The story of Jonah and the great fist is in Jonah 1-2. Swift destruction: see 2 Peter 2:1, where “false prophets” and “false teachers” shall bring “upon themselves swift destruction”
(7) The doubly deceitful glasses are tapered rather than being true cylinders and also sit on false bottoms, so they look deeper than they are. These glasses rob drinkers as flagrantly as thieves lurking along roads rob passerby.
(8) The full glass, thought (mistakenly) to keepthe drinker warm in such a frigid place as Cape Horn.
(9) Also “scrimshaw.” See ch. 57, second paragraph.